Saturday, September 18, 2010

Overcoming Skepticism: Fried Squash Blossoms

Whoever decided to pluck the unopened blossoms from a squash plant, stuff them with cheese, and then batter and deep fry them was a wise individual indeed. This is a fact I discovered recently when I purchased and ate squash blossoms for the first time. I’ll admit I was skeptical at first: I couldn’t imagine that fussing with these delicate little flowers would be worth the end result.
Skepticism sometimes needs to be put aside, though, and I was able to overcome mine when recently, I saw a bright basket of yellow squash blossoms perched on a merchant’s table at the farmer’s market. The price tag was not very encouraging: at six for five dollars, the blossoms weren’t exactly cheap. You need about six to eight blossoms per person if they are to be the main course. I was intrigued, though, and I’m always interested in working with an ingredient for the first time.

A few things I discovered in working with these: they need to be used within a day or two, because they brown and wilt quickly. Also, they need to be handled with care, because the delicate petals of the blossoms will, again, brown and wilt if you treat them too roughly, or touch them too much. Holding them mostly from the bottom where there is a more robust stem tends to work, though.

All right, enough of the negatives, what’s good about working with squash blossoms? Well, once you’ve discovered how to handle them, they are actually kind of fun to work with. I chose a recipe from last September’s Gourmet, Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Ricotta. The recipe involved stuffing the blossoms with a ricotta, parmesan, and mint mixture, dipping them in a tempura batter, deep frying them, and having them with a fresh, chunky tomato sauce on the side. Stuffing them proved to be easier than I had expected: just pry the petals of the blossom gently apart, then fill the space within with the stuffing. Gently twisting the petals will form a light seal to close the blossom up again.
The filled blossoms are then coated in a basic tempura batter. If you have never worked with tempura batter before, a word of warning: it is much thinner than other batters you may have worked with for deep frying, like a fritter batter. It won’t coat whatever you’re frying the way the thicker batters do, but that’s fine: you only want that delicate coating to stay on food.
The blossoms go into half an inch of hot oil (375 F) to fry until golden brown, about three minutes. You should see lots of bubbling, hear lots of crackling, and the blossoms should crisp up quickly.
If not, your oil is not hot enough and you’re going to end up with a soggy end result. When they’re done, take them out with tongs to drain on paper towels. They should be crispy and golden, but the batter should be thin enough that you can see the yellows and greens colors of the blossoms peeking through underneath.
So after all this, was it actually good? Was it worth all the work? In my opinion, yes and yes. I loved how the fried blossom created a delicate, but definite crisp exterior to encase that creamy, savory ricotta filling. They were easy to eat, and would make a great appetizer or main course. Though the blossoms are delicate, the process wasn’t all that tedious after all. As it turns out, I can produce some decent food when I overcome a little skepticism. I think that’s a lesson worth remembering.

Here's that recipe link once again:


  1. I have always wanted to try these blossoms. I see recipes for them a lot, but never see them in the store. I guess I need to go to Jean Talon Market or Atwater.

  2. i love to eat and cook and i always want to try new recipes because for me you can expressed your feeling in cooking