I have always wanted to try to do something with squash blossoms. What held me back was simply that I didn’t know how to distinguish between male and female flowers. I was afraid to pick flowers that might turn into squash. Come to find out, it’s easy to distinguish between the two.
To identify the male flowers, just look for a stem between the plant and the flower. Female flowers grow right next to the plant, but male flowers come off a long, slender stem. That’s all there is to it.
You can use any squash blossom for frying: pumpkin, winter squash, zucchini, yellow summer squash, anything. My favorite is tromboncino squash flowers. Tromboncinos are similar to zucchini but grow very large. I like the flowers because they are also very large and easy to handle. They are a little tougher than smaller flowers, however, so you may want to take that into consideration when you are harvesting your flowers. Yellow summer squash have small, tender blossoms, but they can be hard to work with due to their size and fragility. No matter what you use, they get stuffed with cheese, dredged and deep fried, so you really can’t go wrong!
The recipe below is one I pulled together after reading through several recipes online. Some people fry without stuffing, but where’s the fun in that? I thought if I go through the trouble to fry them, I want them to be hearty and filling. I hope you will give fried squash blossoms a try!
• 10-16 (depending on size) squash blossoms
• Spaghetti or pizza sauce for serving
For the filling:
• 1 egg
• 1 cup ricotta cheese
• 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
• A few sprigs each of fresh basil, parsley, thyme and oregano, minced
• 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
• 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the frying batter:
• 1 cup flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 cup water
• 1 egg
1. First, ready your frying batter by stirring all ingredients together. Set aside to rest while you prepare your other ingredients. The batter should have the consistency of pancake batter; if it is too thick or thin, adjust your water or flour accordingly.
2. Clean squash blossoms carefully. Cut off the stem and slit the side of the flower open. Remove the pistil or stamen (the inside of the flower, which has a bitter taste). Wash under running cool water to remove any critters that may have tried to make a home in there. You may find squash bugs or other small insects, but they wash off easily.
3. Mix together all filling ingredients and stir well.
4. Carefully stuff your blossoms with the filling. Place them on a plate or tray as you work. Don’t worry if they look overstuffed, or even if some of the filling is bulging out — it doesn’t really matter.
5. Heat up oil to a depth of one inch in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. If you have a thermometer, heat your oil to 350 degrees F.
6. Dredge each stuffed blossom through your batter. Let the excess drip off. Gently put each blossom into the hot oil and cook for about two minutes on each side. Only add four or five at a time to your pan, or the oil will cool down too much. A spatula works best to turn them.
7. After they are sufficiently cooked — they should be a pale golden brown — remove from the pan and place on a few paper towels to cool.
8. Serve with your favorite tomato sauce. Enjoy!
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