All the zucchini I am seeing this year brings to mind that old adage—lock your car not to avoid a car theft, but to avoid coming back to your parked car and finding the back seat filled with vegetables!
If your garden is still bursting with squash and blossoms just keep on coming, you may be looking for more fun and easy ways to use your bumper crop. Take some hints from the professional chefs and travel shows you see on television.
Five-star restaurants and chefs the world over love squash season, because they make a killing on the simple trick of stuffing squash blossoms and serving them as an appetizer or garnish for summer dishes.
Squash blossoms are a delicacy only available at the height of summer—they can be stuffed and served without being battered and fried, but frying them make the blossoms a crunchy, delicately flavored delight.
You can create this magic at home too. And once you’ve done it, you will wonder why you might spend upwards of $5 for a single stuffed squash blossom elsewhere.
It’s a really simple process, and it has the added benefit of using some of those baby squashes before they become baseball bat sized. Here is how, in six simple steps.
First, pick whole big blossoms on the day you plan to use them. Plunge them under cold water to wash, then dry them thoroughly on strainer basket or rack. This is critical. They have to be dry if you plan to fry them. Otherwise, tiny droplets of water cause spatter and oil burns during frying. I usually pick them and wash them, then let them air dry for an hour or more to be sure they are dry enough for stuffing and frying.
Second, pick your stuffing. I prefer stuffing the Easy Way Gourmet way—I take a bit of Boursin or Alouette garlic herb cheese and use that as my stuffing. It melts but not too much, has a wonderful rich flavor and best of all tastes like you worked all day just making your stuffing. You could also use pimento cheese, fresh mozzarella or any other combination that will give you a bit of flavor but not overwhelm the delicate flower.
Third, gently stuff your squash blossoms. To do this, peel apart the yellow tendrils at the top of the blossom and use a demitasse spoon, half teaspoon or other tiny spoon to gently put a teaspoon of filling in the very base of the blossom. Then, close the blossom up on itself, making sure no stuffing is falling out and the leaves are back together.
Fourth, make a simple fry batter. I like to use a mix of self-rising flour, beer, and seasoning. I whisk it together until it resembles a light tempura batter the consistency of thick cream.
Fifth, heat your oil to 350ºF. It is important to get your oil hot before you start battering your blossoms, because once you start dipping the blossoms in batter the process moves pretty fast. You can use a fryer or a pot or skillet with about two inches of oil in it. If you don’t have a thermometer to test the heat of the oil, let it heat for a few minutes, then test a small dribble of better in the fat. If it immediately gets golden brown, the fat is ready.
Six, dip and fry your stuffed blossoms. Gently dip each blossom in the batter, then lower it quickly into the hot oil. You can hold the blossom with tongs or your fingers, but using your fingers runs the risk of getting a burn! Once the blossom is in the oil, let it cook for about thirty seconds on one side, then flip it over and let it cook until it is golden brown on both sides. Remove the blossom and drain it on a paper towel. Keep battering and frying all your blossoms, then serve them immediately. If you have leftover batter and a bit more time, you can also cut zucchini into French fry sized strips and fry them too!
Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms
8-10 Medium fresh zucchini blossoms, gently washed and air dried
½ cup herb and garlic cream cheese spread
½ cup Self-rising flour
¾ cup beer
½ teaspoon seasoning salt or Old Bay Seasoning
Light vegetable oil
Gently separate the petals of each flower and place about a teaspoon of the cheese spread in the bottom of the blossom. Gently close the blossom back up, making sure the petals are touching each other and the blossom is shut over the filling. In a shallow bowl, mix the flour, beer and seasoning salt and whisk it until it is fairly smooth. It should resemble a thin pancake batter. Heat the oil in a high sided skillet or pot until it is about 350ºF. Gently dredge each blossom through the batter to coat it, then place it in the hot oil. Let it cook on one side for 30 seconds or until it is golden brown, then flip it gently over and let it cook until golden on the other side. Remove the blossom from the oil and let it drain on a paper towel. You can work in batches and have all the blossoms done in a few minutes if your pot is wide enough to accommodate two or three blossoms at a time. Serve the blossoms as soon as you hae them all done and drained. They are delicious hot, but not so great if they get cold.