My first vegetable garden in Portland West has been generous and at times, mercurial. My ambitious (greedy?) crop of tomatoes have been yielding much but I crowded them so I have to dig through the jungle to find the scarlet treasures. My dill plants were evocative of Jurassic Park and so large that birds landed on the branches (yes, branches) to feed on the seeds. The other day a squirrel was trying to climb the stalks and then decided to just gnaw on the twine that kept them staked to the bed. With the bounty on one end, there were disappointments on the other – cauliflower that bloomed an unattractive yellow, cucumbers that were felled by the insidious cucumber beetle and carrots that looked like they were on growth hormones (not the tasty kind).
I started out with what looked like a bumper crop of zucchini, pattypans, spaghetti squash and pumpkins – and all their attendant and compelling blossoms. I have to say I was excited to have my own squash blossoms to fry up – one of my favorite summertime treats, up there with cold – fresh – tomato soup. The crops have faltered a bit due to powdery mildew and another tenacious bug or disease. BUT! I did manage to harvest many, many blossoms (and some vegetables) and cooked them up as quickly as I could before my plants wilted away.
And, as I have mentioned before, the garden waits for no one. So, when the garden speaks, I listen.
Friends who graced my kitchen this summer gave these delicate and every so-tasty flowers a thumbs-up, so here is the recipe.
Fried Squash Blossoms
Makes as many as you pick
Salt and Pepper
1 cup bubbly water
1 cup flour (any type) mixed with some cornmeal to equal one cup
1. Pick your fresh blossoms or get them at the Farmers Market, and use them that day. You can stretch it a little bit by wrapping the blossoms in moist paper towels and place in a tupperware in your fridge. Rinse them thoroughly by opening up the flower and letting water rinse out the ants and other surprises.
2. Let blossoms dry in a colander. Make your batter by mixing up the water and flour mixture in a bowl until the consistency is that of pancake batter. Season with salt and pepper.
3. If you are stuffing these beauties, mix up a bowl of ricotta and goat cheese, a dollop of pesto and salt and pepper. You don’t want the filling too stiff or too runny. Adjust to your taste. This is free-form. You can also simply batter the blossoms, and eat them without a filling.
4. Open each blossom, and place one tablespoon of filling into the flower, and gently twist the top closed.
5. Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a skillet. I use my cast iron skillet, and pour about 1/4-inch of oil across the bottom.
6. Take your stuffed or unstuffed blossoms, and drag them gently through the batter until the flower is covered, and the stem remains clean. Drop the blossoms in the oil, and let them brown on one side. Turn over and brown the other side. Voila! Enjoy summer at its finest.
- I have also used a clove or two of roasted garlic in the filling. If you roast a head of garlic and keep it in the refrigerator, you can pull out a clove whenever you need to perk up a filling, soup, casserole or dip.