Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Stuffed Squash Blossoms



One of my greatest joys of summer in New England is eating fresh, local produce. After a long winter, I feel lucky receive such a great bounty of fruits and vegetables from farms in towns I recognize - including my own dense city - and even from our own backyards and balconies. Even though I keep learning, I don't always stagger my planting well enough to have a constant harvest all season. Right now, my own garden is in a transitional moment. My first planting of salad greens is starting to flower, and everything else is not quite ready - green tomatoes, white pea blossoms, purple eggplant flowers.

Urban agriculture means growing in raised beds and containers.
(Zucchini plants are center right.)

A zucchini plant with several green buds at the base.
Fortunately, zucchini (or courgette, a dark green summer squash) has something to offer, even before it's time to harvest the fruits. Mine have great big leaves and produce several male flowers a day, but I have yet to see a female flower. As soon as I see a female flower, I will hand pollinate and hope for a squash to grow.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying the squash blossoms themselves. The flowers only open for a few hours in the morning, and I pick them once they're closed.


Rinse the blossoms in cold water.
I've heard you can eat zucchini blossoms raw in salads, but my preference is to go all out and stuff them with (vegan) cheese, dip them in batter, and fry them up. This recipe is for about 5-7 large blossoms.


Zucchini blossoms:
First, wash the blossoms by rinsing them carefully in cold water. Be sure to open them up and rinse the inside too, to get rid of the pollen and any critters who got caught inside when they closed up. Gently shake out the water from inside and pat dry with a paper towel. 


Easy cashew cheese filling:
1/3 cup ground raw cashews (grind them yourself or use pre-ground cashew meal, like the bag I bought at Trader Joe's)
1 scallion, sliced or snipped with kitchen scissors into 1/4-in pieces (green part only)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1-3 tablespoons water
salt to taste
Mix all of the above with a spoon in a small bowl. Add water a little at a time, so that the result is the consistency of a thick dip. (Note: In lieu of the ground cashews, you may use soaked raw whole cashews in a food processor. You may also substitute this filling with any very soft cheese, but I highly recommend including scallions or chives.)

Fill the blossoms with about a teaspoon of cashew cheese (more or less, depending on the size of the blossom). This can be tricky, this is how I do it: hold two petals, spread apart, between the pointer and middle fingers, and the other petals between the thumb and ring finger, as in the photo, and then using a narrow butter knife or spreader to drop the filling in.


Batter:
1/2 cup flour (I use whole wheat)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
salt to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon water

Mix the dry ingredients together and add the water.  You may adjust the water to your preferences, but I recommend keeping it thick, at least the consistency of a good pancake batter. (Note: with this recipe, you will have excess batter, but you're sure to cover all the blossoms completely.)


Heat about a 1/4 inch of rice oil (or another oil that works well at higher temperatures) at medium-high heat for a few minutes. Meanwhile, immerse the whole stuffed blossoms into the batter, a few at a time, lift them one-by-one, and drop them into the heated oil, being careful not to splash.


Once all sides are golden brown, remove the blossoms from the pan and drain excess oil on a paper towel and serve.

I had these with cucumber-yogurt-dill salad for lunch today.

Enjoy!


1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    I am a fellow raveller. I found your profile because I saw that you put your Berroco pure merino Paprika for sale. I tried to reach you through ravelry, but it seems that you are not active there. I came to your blog through the Revelry link and the reason I came here is that I have the same yarn, but not enough amount to make the cardigan I wanted. Would you let me know if you still want to sell it? My profile name there is Denisezen. And I think you can email me from here.
    BTW, the squash blossom recipe is inspiring. I had a lot of blossoms this year (not much fruit however) and didn’t know what to do with them.

    Thank you

    Denise

    ReplyDelete