Stuffed Squash Blossom

by BiteSizedJessica on September 8, 2010

The first time I ever saw or ate a squash blossom was at an incredibly fancy restaurant in Rome. The restaurant was part of a hotel, and the restaurant was the top floor of the hotel. My parents and I ate there while I was studying abroad, and we had a view overlooking the entire city. All the waiters wore tuxedos. The only things I really remember about the meal were how miserably underdressed I was, and the squash blossoms. I didn’t even know what they were when I was eating them, but they were the best part of the meal. Stuffed with ricotta cheese and lightly pan-fried, I couldn’t believe how sweet, delicate and juicy the little stuffed flowers were.

When me and my mom got back to New York, finding squash blossoms was the first thing we did. It was December and since we didn’t know anything about squash blossoms, we didn’t know that they are very seasonal and therefore primarily available in the summer. At our nearest specialty food store, Agata & Valentina, squash blossoms in December cost 4 dollars for 3 blossoms. We were completely appalled at how expensive they were and bought them anyways.

Since that first experience with blossoms, I have been completely enamored with them. I have also learned that biologically, fruits are part of flowering plants that have male and female flowers. Zucchini are fruits that are derived from flowers, and those flowers are squash blossoms. So it makes sense that squash blossoms are exorbitantly expensive in the winter, because zucchini are in season in the summer.

While we were walking through the market the other day, I wanted to make something with the beautiful little eggplants and heirloom okra that I’d found. When we passed the stand with squash blossoms, I had the thought to stuff them with the okra, something we do in the restaurant right now with kobocha squash and shiitake mushrooms. I’ve had blossoms steamed and breaded and fried, but my favorite way to eat them is just lightly coated in Wondra and pan fried in oil, so you can really taste the delicate flavor of the flower. These blossoms were a final taste of summer that brought me back to Italy.

INGREDIENTS
(Makes 12)

12 squash blossoms, stems and stamens removed
6 pieces heirloom green okra, thinly sliced into rounds
4 pieces heirloom red okra, thinly sliced into rounds
6 baby eggplants, chopped
1/2 cousa squash, diced
12 cherry tomatoes, chopped
3 baby bell peppers, diced
2 shallots, diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp red wine vinegar, to deglaze
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Wondra flour
Canola oil

Process:

  1. Prepare the vegetables – cut shallots, bell peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, okra and cousa squash.
  2. Heat a small pan and sauté shallots, crushed garlic, peppers, squash and eggplant until softened and lightly browned. Deglaze with the red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Wipe out the pan with a dry towel and put back on the heat. Coat with oil and sauté the okra on high heat. Try to avoid over-stirring the okra, because it can get viscous and sticky when you overwork it.
  4. When okra has browned a little, add the chopped cherry tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the tomatoes have released some of their liquid.
  5. Mix okra and tomatoes with pepper and eggplant mixture. Remove crushed garlic before stuffing blossoms.
  6. Clean the squash blossoms – remove the stems and stamens. Using a small spoon and careful hands, gently stuff the blossoms with the vegetable mixture. Twist the end of the flower to seal the stuffing inside.
  7. In a shallow dish, coat the blossom with Wondra flour. Heat a small pan and coat the bottom with canola oil. Gently fry the blossom on all sides until browned and crispy. Place fried blossom on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil and season with salt. Serve warm.
  8. Prepare the vegetables – cut shallots, bell peppers, eggplants, tomatoes and okra.
  9. Heat a small pan and sauté shallots, crushed garlic, peppers and eggplant until softened and lightly browned. Deglaze with the red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  10. Wipe out the pan with a dry towel and put back on the heat. Coat with oil and sauté the okra on high heat. Try to avoid over-stirring the okra, because it can get viscous and sticky when you overwork it.
  11. When okra has browned a little, add the chopped cherry tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the tomatoes have released some of their liquid.
  12. Mix okra and tomatoes with pepper and eggplant mixture. Remove crushed garlic before stuffing blossoms.
  13. Clean the squash blossoms – remove the stems and stamens. Using a small spoon and careful hands, gently stuff the blossoms with the vegetable mixture. Twist the end of the flower to seal the stuffing inside.
  14. In a shallow dish, coat the blossom with Wondra flour. Heat a small pan and coat the bottom with canola oil. Gently fry the blossom on all sides until browned and crispy. Place fried blossom on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil and season with salt. Serve warm.

© 2010 Jonathan Meter and Jessica Hertle

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Dora Ficher September 8, 2010 at 9:16 am

I never had squash blossom, not even in Rome. It sure does look fabulous! I love everything you stuff it with. It looks so delicate, the 1st photograph looks like a gift wrapped in cellophane. And, it is a gift…a gift for the palette. 🙂 Thank you for sharing such exquisite food and photography. Love you guys!

Dorothy September 8, 2010 at 9:18 am

FAB-U-LOSO!!! IT LOOKS AMAZING. IT MUST TASTE DIVINE.
LET’S HAVE SOME SOON.
I WANT TO HAVE A PICNIC…WITH ALL YOUR BITES – ON A WHITE TABLECLOTH..IN THE PARK… ANY PARK WILL DO 🙂
WHEN CAN WE DO THIS?

Dora Ficher September 8, 2010 at 10:05 am

Can I come as well?

Twee September 10, 2010 at 7:36 am

Sadly, i never mastered the art of successfully stuffing zucchini blossoms and keeping them closed. I’ll give it another go after seeing your inspirational post, wish me luck!

heidi September 13, 2010 at 7:35 pm

A masterpiece, as always.
I want (at least) one, as always.
And always something new…red okra?
You frequently mention Wondra. What makes it different from other flour?

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