Blossoming Love

Zucchini Blossoms Stuffed with Goat Cheese
Saturday, I was antsy at first light. Usually, I'd roll over and burrow deep beneath my blankets for one last dream, but lately, I haven't been able to stop thinking about blossoms—those lovely, delicate flowers that profusely decorate plants everywhere around this time of year. In particular, squash blossoms; specifically, zucchini blossoms.

Going to the farmers market in the summertime means that I have a lot of time to kill, especially since Mr. B set me up on an irrigation system. I used to pass the morning watering my own plants, fighting the temptation to to steal a few blossoms off of my own zucchini plants, but now, without watering on my chore list, I just sit around and drink coffee. And wait. And wait.

The bell rings at 9 sharp at the farmers market and since the rules clearly stipulate that the farmers can't sell before that time, most people don't arrive until later. But I'm not most people. I like to walk past the tables a few times, see what's fresh, what's new; strike up a conversation and sometimes, with a few winks and a smile, beg that a choice beauty be set aside for me. That's how it was this past Saturday morning when I spied the most magnificent basket of squash blossoms, the baby zucchini still attached.

The vendor was new to me—maybe even new to the market—for he was welcoming and friendly and already had his table set up and was casually waiting for the bell. Before he'd seen me, I'd scanned the table, so I knew what I was after and with only four baskets on display, I wasn't about to take the chance that someone would beat me to the punch.

"Looks like we still have 12 minutes," he said, glancing down at his watch. I took this as an invitation; shortly, I was complimenting everything on his table. He looked me square in the eyes, his face worn and weathered, but he was still good looking. We both knew where we were headed.

"See something you'd like me to put off to the side," he asked. I nodded and pointed at the basket that I'd already selected and gave him my best smile; I was glad that I'd remembered to put on lipstick and brush my hair. "Well, then, I'll just put them over here," and with that he set the basket off to the table behind him.

My blossoms were safe.

I spent the next few minutes strolling about and enjoying myself. The crowd was growing. Knowing that my squash blossoms were safe, I milled about the clatter, eavesdropping on conversations and when offered, accepting samples of freshly picked fruits ripened on the vine. It was a slightly overcast June morning, chilly enough for a sweatshirt and just as I was about to count my many blessings, the bell sounded. Within a few minutes, I'd be back in the car, the basket of squash blossoms on the seat beside me and within an hour, they'd already be stuffed and put away into the refrigerator until dinner time.

 Squash blossoms fade quickly, so if you can't devote your immediate attention to them, better wait until another time. They're also too delicate to thoroughly wash, so buy from an organic stand and then when prepping, gently open them, shake them and give them the once over.

Stuffed Squash Blossoms

12 zucchini blossoms
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup soft goat cheese
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon local honey
3 tablespoons finely minced basil
salt and fresh cracked pepper
12 chives

*rice flour
*warm water

oil for frying

1. Inspect, shake out and gently wipe down the blossoms.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, Parmesan, goat cheese, egg yolk and honey until thoroughly combined.
3. Stir in the minced basil and salt and pepper.
4. Fill a pastry bag with the cheese mixture, or a zip bag (then cut the end off).
5. With one hand, hold the blossom in your palm and gently fold back a petal with your fingers; pipe the cheese mixture into the blossom.
6. With the tip of your finger, press the mixture into the blossom and close the petals.
7. Repeat with until all the blossoms are filled.
8. Tie off each blossom with a chive, being gentle not to break the petals or the chive; set aside.
9. Repeat with remaining blossoms until they are all tied off.
10. Refrigerate until ready to fry, placing blossoms in a single layer, not touching and covered with waxed paper.

To Finish

1. Heat an inch of oil in a heavy cast iron skillet until temperature reaches 375ยบ.
2. Mix together rice flour and warm water until you get the consistency of a thick batter.
3. Batter each blossom and fry until golden and crispy.
4. Remove to rack and salt.
5. Serve immediately.

* This is a tempura style batter, lighter and more difficult to work with. Feel free to dredge blossoms in flour and then in an egg mixture. The latter works better at keeping the filling in, but the rice flour method is lighter and allows the flavor of the blossom to come through a bit more.



Comments

  1. My husband spent a couple summers in Italy and his Nona made squash blossoms and he absolutely fell head over heals in love with them. I should check my farmers market for them - thanks for the idea!

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