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Baked, stuffed squash blossoms are a delicious revelation

16 Jun

squash-blossoms

They may seem complicated, but this simple recipe delivers a light and beautiful dish that is sure to delight.

I am completely smitten with eating flowers, both from the garden and the wild. Aside from the flower-fairy magic of it all, they add unique flavors and color to a dish. And if meat-eaters can minimize food waste by eating nose-to-tail, why can’t plant eaters eat root-to-petal?

Meanwhile, it’s squash season – and as is its wont, that means that summer squash of every size, shape, and color is invading gardens and green markets with beautiful reckless abandon. When over the weekend I saw a giant box of gorgeous squash blossoms for $5.00 – which seemed so cheap compared to their vibrant exuberance – I bought them with stuffing in mind. The thing is, stuffed and fried squash blossoms – or even just batter-dipped – the ways I have mostly seen them prepared, was not all that appealing to me because a) it feels heavy-handed for something so delicate and b) standing over a vat of spattering oil in a hot kitchen on a hot July day did not sound lovely.

So we baked them … and as it turns out, they were nonetheless tender, crispy, and golden, without being saturated in oil. The fleeting flavor of squash remained present, and they made for a perfect side dish redolent of summer and gardens … and a little but of fairy magic.

And they were nearly effortless to make. Mix the few ingredients, stuff, twist, dip and roll in bread crumbs, bake, eat. My family was happy with them as they were, but for anyone wanting less cheese, the ricotta could be beautifully diluted with finely chopped, cooked spinach that has been pressed to remove excess liquid. Also below, vegan alternatives.

Baked, stuffed squash blossoms
• 8 – 10 squash blossoms
• 1 cup ricotta*
• 2 eggs*
• 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano*
• Chopped fresh mint
• Salt to taste
• 3/4 cups panko bread crumbs

*VEGAN ALTERNATIVES: Use non-dairy ricotta, sprinkle in some nutritional yeast instead of Parmigiano-Reggiano to add umami, omit the one egg in the cheese mix, and use soy milk in place of the other egg for the egg wash.

1. Pre-heat oven to 400F. Mix the cheese and one egg together, add mint.
2. Open the blossom in one hand and stuff about two tablespoons into the heart of the flower. May be more or less, depending on their size.
3. Twist the blossom closed. Beat the other egg in a bowl, and place the bread crumbs in another. Dip twisted flower in the egg and then sprinkle with bread crumbs.
4. Place them all on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden. (I used my convection fan which made them crispy in under 15 minutes.) No need to turn, just check to make sure they don’t burn.

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