I love my friends.
I especially love it when I receive texts out of the blue that say things like, “Hey! I am growing zucchini! Do you want to have my early squash blossoms to cook something awesome?”
Zucchini blossoms are a definitively Spring-season foodie find. (Although, I believe all types of squash produce yummy blossoms…so stay tuned for potential acorn squash blossom goodness, grown by yours truly, later on!) Zucchini, which ripen around these parts in early Summer, bloom with delicate and completely edible flowers in the Spring.
And, um, did you know that there are girl flowers and boy flowers? (I felt a little like I was at a middle school dance or health class when I typed that.) That’s right, flowers have gender, and girl flowers come complete with tiny, baby zucchinis attached. Which, obviously, grow into adult-size zucchinis if you don’t cut them off the vine to eat the tender blossoms first.
And although you may want to save some of your zucchinis for actual zucchini purposes later on, like zucchini and corn tacos or zucchini bread, you should definitely select a few of those blossoming beauties to snip early and eat this Spring.
This delicious dish is dedicated to Jessica, who furnished me with home-grown, organic squash blossoms and a bunch of my favorite herbs. Just because she’s awesome.
But seriously. Just try them!
Start by mixing together a delicious filling. You could skip this step, because stuffing the squash blossoms is probably the scariest part, but you would totally be missing out on something delicious.
My filling was super easy. No fuss. Just a bit of ricotta and a dab of goat cheese and a few leaves of fresh thyme! You could go all ricotta or use a different fresh herb, too. Whatever you want! Chill the filling.
Now we make the beer batter. This was the part I was actually the most nervous about, because…I don’t fry things. It’s pretty much my mission statement. But when you have just a few precious squash blossoms, not enough to go crazy and make a whole batch of soup or a bunch of tacos, they really do beg to be fried. It’s the most delicious way.
I am going to recommend that you make a thinner batter than I did, because you do want to be able to taste the blossoms around all the fried. I was reducing a larger recipe to accommodate the number of blossoms I had (5), but next time I would just add more liquid to the batter. Check.
Making a batter for frying is as easy as making pancake batter. Whisk the egg, then add all the other ingredients (flour, cornstarch, beer, water, seasonings), and whisk until not lumpy. Sha-bam. Done. Chill the batter for 20 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, very carefully pry the flower petals open and pinch off the pistil inside the base of the bud. It is short. It might look like almost nothing. Pinch it off anyway.
Confession: I accidentally made a slit in one of my pretty flowers while I was doing this. But you know what? It was still delicious. So no worries!
Now scoop the cheesy filling into a small Ziploc bag (or a piping bag, whatever floats your boat). Carefully squeeze the cheese into the blossom, careful not to get carried away and overfill. A tablespoon goes a long way.
Time to heat up the oil. I used a large wok and I only filled it an inch deep. I guess this could still be thought of as “deep frying,” but mostly I was trying not to waste oil. The main change, in terms of cooking method, is that I had to flip my blossoms over to cook on both sides, where a true deep fryer wouldn’t necessarily require this.
Make sure the oil is set over medium heat. You don’t want it to get too hot and burn the precious blossoms!
When the air above the oil is hot, but the oil is not smoking, swipe the stuffed blossoms through the batter and drop them into the pan.
So…an important note: I halved the recipe below because I only had 5 blossoms. “But…how do you halve an egg?” you ask. Welllll…you beat it and then you pour roughly half of the beaten mixture down the drain. That’s how. Good luck!
Stuffed Fried Squash Blossoms
adapted from The Kitchn
½ cup ricotta
½ cup goat cheese
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
½ cup cornstarch
2 tbsp. flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
scant ¼ tsp. black pepper
¼ cup beer (lager or pale ale)
¼ cup water
1 egg, beaten
10 squash blossoms
oil, for frying
Stir together the ricotta, goat cheese, and thyme. Transfer to a small Ziploc bag or a piping bag, and store in the fridge until needed.
Whisk together the cornstarch, flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, beer, water, and egg until smooth. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, carefully open the squash blossoms. Remove the pistil in the center.
Snip a corner from the Ziploc bag and pipe about 1 tbsp. filling into each blossom. Twist the petals closed around the filling.
Heat about 1″ oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, dip the blossoms in the chilled beer batter and drop into the hot oil.
Cook for about 3 minutes, then turn the blossoms over and cook another 2–3 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove the blossoms from the oil and set on a paper towel to drain. Serve hot.