My mom is in town! And this is how we spent our Saturday morning… reading vintage cook books, flipping through old food magazines, drinking tea, eating fried plantains and prepping squash flowers that were fresh from the garden to make stuffed squash blossoms. We harvested a small fortune of squash and the flowers. Never having grown squash, I planted it this year, and it’s really taken over. The plant is huge. It’s overflowing from the garden bed, onto the sidewalk. Underneath the giant, shady leaves are giant yellow flowers and giant yellow squash. This variety, an heirloom, is a summer crookneck squash. It’s bumpy like a gourd, and they get much bigger than your standard supermarket squash.. but the flavor and texture is the same.
Stuffed squash blossoms (sometimes specifically called zucchini blossoms) have been on my radar this year– I’ve never had them, but they sounded like something amazing. They’re a fleeting summer delicacy that I’ve seen on menus, and I have friends who are obsessed with them. Mexican restaurants serve them in quesadillas with cheese, so you can find them in some smaller supermarkets. The flowers are delicate, so if buying them or picking them, you’ll want to use them the same day. Perfect project for a lazy weekend. I made them two ways, as an appetizer, and both versions were very well received. One version was stuffed with cheese, the other was simply breaded and fried, then served with a squeeze of lemon, a dash of zest and a pinch of flaky sea salt.
Taking the time to clean them is really the most work. You’ll need to wash them (I did so in an ice bath, to keep them fresh), delicately rinsing away the pollen and any bugs. And really look for the bugs! This is worth noting because the pollinators love these- and they should; that’s how squash babies are made. Some flowers are female (these produce the squash) and some are male (these fertilize the female flower and don’t produce anything). You can tell the difference by looking at the flowers- the females have bulbous ‘hips’ that turn into squash and are on shorter stems close to the center of the plant. The males are on longer stems throughout the plant. I picked both types of flower, but you can just choose males if you’re looking to maximize your crop.
How to Make your Fried and Stuffed Squash Blossoms:
Once rinsed, very carefully remove the stamen. I used a tiny pair of scissors for this, which worked the best to reach into the base of the flower without ripping the petals. Line a baking sheet with paper towels, and let the water drip off a little. While they dry off, you can prepare the cheese filling. Then when you’re ready, stuff them with a spoonful or two of the filling and twist the petals closed. Lay them back out on your baking sheet and chill in the fridge until you’re ready to fry them. If you’re not stuffing them, then just store them flat in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them.
I made these in the morning, and chilled them all day, so they were nice and firm when it came time to fry them. I recommend chilling them for at least an hour if you can. If the cheese is warm or room temperature, it’s more likely to leak and ooze.
To fry them:
You’ll want about an inch of oil at the bottom of a pan, preferably a skillet. Heat the oil slow on a medium high heat. You don’t want them completely submerged. Fry until brown, flipping to cook each side, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from heat when golden brown and crispy, setting them aside on a paper-towel lined plate to absorb the excess oil .
Fried and Stuffed Squash Blossoms
10 Squash/Zucchini flowers, rinsed and cleaned
FOR THE FILLING
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
A generous pinch of salt and pepper
FOR THE BATTER
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp corn starch
1 teaspoon oregano
A generous pinch of salt and pepper
Combine ingredients to make filling, and stuff flowers with 1-2 spoonfuls of cheese, carefully without tearing. Twist to close. Lay flat to store, and chill for an hour or more.
Heat oil to fry, about one inch of oil in a heavy frying pan or skillet.
For the batter: (Use two bowls)
In one bowl, combine eggs with salt and pepper and whisk to whip and combine.
In the second bowl, mix remaining dry ingredients.
Once your oil is hot, dip each flower in egg batter then coat in dry batter and carefully drop in oil to fry. Turn to cook each side, about 5 minutes per side. Remove when golden brown and set aside on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb excess oils. Serve immediately.
Notes: Serve them with some marinara sauce if stuffed with cheese (or cook some tomatoes in olive oil with basil and oregano, make your own chunky, rustic tomato sauce) or serve lightly fried (no cheese, no stuffing) with sprinkle of sea salt and a splash of fresh lemon juice.