Deep-fried squash blossoms
Creating crispy, tender squash blossoms stuffed with a ricotta filling is tricky business. I would never say it’s not worth the work, but if you make them, choose your recipients well. They need to be people who love you and appreciate your know-how and your effort.
A squash blossom’s life span is one day. It blooms in the morning and by mid-day it has closed and is beginning to die. The first time I made these I made the mistake of assuming that the dozens I saw blooming in the garden at 10:00am were going to still be fresh and happy at 4:00pm. Therefore, when I returned to the garden to cut them for dinner, they appeared to be gone! Close inspection revealed that they were there alright, but those perky flowers had transitioned into closed, damp blossoms that were beginning to shrivel. I made the best of them, but it was sort of like working with wet tissue paper that tore easily.
There are male and female blossoms of a squash plant. The male blossoms grow independently from the fruit, which sort of makes sense. (They don’t have a squash attached to them.) I find them easier to use because you can cut them with a couple of inches of stem attached and they tend to stay fresh a little longer. If you use the male flower, reach into it and pop off the stamen before you fill it.
- So this process begins by picking open blossoms no later than noon. (You can use crookneck or zucchini blossoms.) Carefully lay them on a large tray and put them in the refrigerator until you need them.
- In the meantime, mix all your filling ingredients together in a bowl. I’ve found that my favorite filling is the same one I use for lasagna or stuffed pasta shells. You can prepare the filling ahead of time and keep it in your refrigerator until you’re ready. (Filling ingredients are listed below.)
- When ready, gently rinse your blossoms in cold water and shake to remove excess water. Pat dry. If using male blossoms, trim stems off and remove stamens.
- Fill each blossom with about a tablespoon of filling. You can spoon this in, but this process is much easier if you pipe it in with pastry bag, because it forces the filling into the bottom of the blossom. Gently twist the top of the flower to close the package.
- Heat a couple of inches of oil to 325-350 degrees F for deep fat frying.
- While oil is heating, mix up your batter. (Batter ingredients are listed below.)
- Dip the filled blossoms in the batter and coat completely.
- Gently drop blossoms into the hot oil and cook several minutes until golden brown on the bottom. Turn over and cook other side. This doesn’t take too long, but you want to be sure the filling gets nice and hot inside. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and let drain on paper towels. Repeat until all squash blossoms are cooked.
- Serve as is with a sprinkle of kosher salt, or better yet, with a simple marinara sauce
Mix all filling ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use:
- 1 pound ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon dried basil, or 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped fine
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Approximately 5 ounces frozen spinach, thawed with moisture squeezed out
Just before needed, mix all batter ingredients together in a shallow bowl:
- 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup cold club soda or seltzer water