I frequent my local Farmers Market about twice a month, on Saturdays. I like to roam around and “feast my eyes” on all the seasonal “offerings” to seek inspiration. On this particular day, i went to the Farmers Market without a list, which is very unlike me. I’m a “list shopper!” I dislike going shopping without a list, as i might forget ingredients for my given recipes. But, even with a list, i sometimes miss a few items on the list, HA! So there you have it, there are no guarantees, with or without a list!
On this particular visit there was a lot of commotion, when I arrived. I saw the street blocked off surrounding the market and about twenty police cars. I was astonished by all the commotion, including all the other Famers Market patrons who were trying to access entry in to the market. Apparently, before i arrived, around eleven-ish, there had been a stand off with the police and a man armed with a gun. This began about seven-thirty a.m. and had continued upon my arrival. The Farmers Market was not shut down, only the streets surrounding it. So, i rerouted from my usual course and went in the back way, to reach the Farmers Market. The vendors at the Farmers Market were not particularly happy, as business was not “booming,” due to the unexpected stand-off and the shut down of the surrounding streets. I must admit, i didn’t mind the lack of crowds, as i could go about my shopping without foraging through a sea of people.
I first noticed the Squash Blossoms upon entry and i continued to see them on countless vendor tables, throughout the market. I couldn’t resist the urge to buy them, as they looked so succulent and ethereal. And the price was right, twenty-five cents each!
Squash Blossoms are the flowers from squash, hence the name. There are female and male blossoms. Most of the blossoms you see sold, are of the male variety, indicated by a narrow base, opposed to a bulbous base, which are the female blossoms. If the female blossoms are picked, there will be no fruit to bear, but if too many male blossoms are picked there won’t be pollen from the male blossom inserted into the female blossom from the bees. It’s a delicate balance, without the male blossoms, the bees can’t due their job!
In many cultures, Squash Blossoms are used for culinary purposes. Two countries that come to mind, are Italy and Mexico. In both countries, i took cooking courses that used Squash Blossoms as part of an ingredient or as the main ingredient. For this posting, i did an Italian recipe, but you can put whatever you would like in the Squash Blossom. In the note section of the recipe, I suggested alternatives to the posted recipe. One alternative is to use Queso Fresco (white mexican cheese), it is saltier than Ricotta, but is very delicious. You could also add some ground meat, like Chorizo or pancetta. Seafood would be a great addition, crab in particular, served with a lemon aioli. I can keep going, but i’m sure you get the idea. The addition of fresh herbs over dried herbs is always preferred, as it will give the dish a more “fresh” taste. A must is lemon, both squeezed and zest, it really brightens the dish. I also made an “Arugula Pesto” to serve with the Squash Blossoms. The recipe is not included here, but i will post it in another posting.
If you are gluten free, I suggest corn starch or a gluten free flour. You could even use gluten free bread to make breadcrumbs. For Vegan suggestions, soft tofu for the filling.
Finally, if there are no Squash Blossoms, which sadly will happen, you could make this recipe, but replace the Squash Blossoms with squash. Cut the squash in half, hollow out the center with a spoon and then pipe the filling in the hollowed squash and top with breadcrumbs.
Do Ahead: I love anything i can do ahead! The filling can be made in advance, up to a day. The recipe only takes 15 minutes, so really not much more to do!
- 4 Squash Blossoms
- ½ cup of Ricotta (I prefer Sheep's Milk, it is creamier and has a very light taste)
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon fresh or dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 egg
- ¼ teaspoon water
- ½ cup of flour
- salt and pepper to taste
- Carefully remove the stems and the anther, which is inside the flower.
- Prepare the filling, combine Ricotta, ½ teaspoon lemon juice, lemon zest, oregano, salt and pepper.
- Put filling into a pastry bag, set aside.
- Mix egg and water in shallow dish, set aside.
- Mix salt, pepper and flour in a shallow dish, set aside.
- Fill each Squash Blossom ¾ full, with the ricotta mixture.
- Coat filled blossoms with flour.
- Dip in egg.
- Coat in flour again.
- Heat skillet on high with olive oil.
- When skillet is hot and oil is shimmering add Squash Blossoms.
- Fry Squash Blooms until brown and crispy, about 3-5 minutes.
- Serve with a squeeze of lemon and salt
2. If you don't have a pastry bag handy, you can make one with a resealable plastic bag. Put the mixture in the bag, close and squeeze it to the corner of the bag, snip of corner, insert into Squash Blossom and fill ¾ full.
3. I made an arugula "pesto," which i did not include in this recipe, but will include in a separate post.
4. You could add chorizio to the ricotta filling and do a "crema" topping, for a "Mexican" take on this recipe. "Crema" recipe is under the "Korean Tacos" posting.
As an alternative to Ricotta, use Queso Fresco.