Do you know what these beautiful flowers are? They’re squash/zucchini blossoms and boy are they delicious! I remember buying them a few summers ago at the Roots Market in Clarksville, MD. They showcase seasonal produce from local farms at various times throughout the year. They might get in a few dozen zucchini blossoms, a handful of garlic scapes, a few dozen patty pan squash and so on. And when they’re gone, they’re gone for the season. We don’t live so close to Clarksville anymore so we aren’t able to frequent Roots as often. We probably missed out on the blossoms delivery this summer. If you’ve been following the blog, you will know that I’ve been shopping at the local farmers markets a lot this year. I should really join a CSA. I had been searching for them all summer without much success. Every week I’d pick up a few zucchini or yellow squash and then it came to me. Surely these farms must have loads of blossoms growing out on the fields. I decided to write to a few local farmers to see if they could help me out.
When I didn’t hear back from the farms straight away, I thought I should maybe mention something in person the next time I was out at the market. “Hi there! I wrote you an email the other day about squash blossoms. I was wondering if it was possible to make a special request…” John from Love Dove Farms remembered the email and was happy to harvest some blossoms for me for the next market day! I was delighted! That’s the great thing about farmers markets – you create dialogue and relationships directly with the farmer and farms. Thanks John and Love Dove Farms! We really appreciate the time you took to harvest the blossoms for us! They were gorgeous!
The first time I had squash blossoms was when I lived in Tuscany. Carbonara Fior di Zucca! Ahhhhh so delicious! There was this restaurant on a sloping hill that I would go to all the time for Pici all’aglione – thick Sienese pici pasta in a super garlic-y tomato sauce. One day I saw fior di zucca (squash blossoms) on the menu and I knew I had to try it. I never had it before. It was absolutely fantastic! A few days later, I found some at a fruit and vegetable vendor near my apartment and picked up a dozen to recreate the dish at home. So when I found a farm stall that offered squash blossoms here, it was like I was back in Italy. 🙂
I knew exactly what I wanted to make with the Love Dove Farms blossoms – ricotta stuffed fritters and carbonara fior di zucca, like the one I had in Tuscany. But as usual in our house, things didn’t go as planned. We loved the fritters so much, we didn’t get around to the carbonara part HAHA. We stuffed half the blossoms with a ricotta mixture and the other half we fried plain like Cinghiale’s bagna cauda antipasto dish. Squeezed over some lemon juice and we enjoyed one of the best summery dishes we’ve had yet. Here is the recipe I used for the ricotta mixture.
3/4 cup ricotta
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup grated ricotta salata
1 egg yolk
extra virgin olive oil
lemon zest, lemon
lemon juice, half a lemon
1 cup tempura flour
3/4 cup ice water
Heat your deep fryer to 350F. In a bowl, mix all the stuffing ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Place in a piping bag or a plastic bag and snip the corner. Wash the squash blossoms under running water. There may be little bugs inside (Always fun isnt it?! NOT! I think I screamed Kevin’s ear off a few times HAHA). Pat dry with paper towels. Cup the flowers in your hand and open out the petals. Fill flowers up to where the petals begin to part. Twist the petals together to close the filling inside and fold the petals back. After all the blossoms are stuffed, place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to stiffen up a bit. Mix tempura flour with ice cold water. Dip each stuffed blossom into the tempura batter, drain off excess batter then quickly and gently slide them into the hot oil. Fry for about 3-4 minutes until the batter crisps up. Take out and drain excess oil on a paper towel lined plate. Squeeze over some lemon wedges and you’re ready to eat! 😀
Squash blossoms are very delicate and begin to wilt as soon as they are harvested. If you don’t plan on using them immediately I recommend that you roll them in some paper towel and place them inside a slightly inflated plastic bag, inside the fridge. They will last up to 2 or 3 days like that in your fridge.
Check out the Love Dove Farms stall the next time you’re out at the Howard County Farmers Market. The farmers are extremely friendly and approachable and they offer a variety of seasonal produce from squash, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, beets, tomatoes, potatoes, young garlic, onions and so much more. Love Dove Farms also supplies fresh produce to Aida Bistro in Columbia, MD and they have served stuffed squash blossoms on their menu in the past. If you can’t get your hands on squash blossoms, look up local restaurants and see if they are serving squash blossoms on their menu this summer. They’re not to be missed!
Give this recipe a try and let me know how it goes in the comment section below. Visit me on facebook and twitter and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog. Happy Eating!