Growing squash is a staple of most home gardens. Whether summer variety, like zucchini and yellow, or winter, such as acorn or butternut, squash grows so prolifically here in the Valley that often the gardener has more than one household can consume or even give away.
One exciting dish that can come from growing squash is to stuff the blossoms, then bread them and fry or bake. Squash plants have two types of flowers — male and female. Both are equally delicious, but you can harvest the male flowers and not diminish your squash crop. Once the male flowers give off their pollen, they will wilt and fall off anyway. To identify the flower’s gender, look at the base to see if a small bulge is developing. If so, that’s the fruit and identifies the flower as female. If no bulge, the flower is male.
Harvest the flowers right before you are to cook them as they don’t last more than a day or so once picked. Select the larger, fresher looking blossoms.
Should you not have a home garden, you can find squash blossoms at most all of the local farmers’ markets.
Stuffing usually includes a soft cheese and fresh herbs, but you could stuff these blossoms with mushrooms, Italian sausage, crumbled bacon or any combination thereof. They work great as an appetizer or side dish to a fresh summer meal.
Inside each male flower is a small, stick-like shaft called the stamen. This needs to be delicately removed, as it imparts a bitter flavor. Tweezers work great for this operation.
Stuffed squash blossoms
8 Squash Blossoms, with stamens removed
1/2 cup Ricotta
1 egg yolk
Splash of cream or milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped (fresh parsley, thyme or chives also work well)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Salt & pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Cover a baking tray with a piece of parchment paper. Carefully fill each blossom with about two teaspoons of the filling. Then twist the end of the flower so the filling is sealed in.
Splash of milk or cream
Seasoned bread crumbs
Beat the egg and milk in a small bowl. Put the bread crumbs in another bowl. Soak the filled blossoms in the egg mixture, then gently roll in the bread crumbs to coat. Place each coated blossom on the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for ten minutes at 400 degrees. The bottom side will become a beautiful golden brown. Serve with a marinara sauce or simply by themselves. What a marvelous, healthy summer treat!
Doug Seed was raised in Bloomfield, Mich. and has lived in Morada since 1984. He is a non-denominational clergyman, specializing in research and teaching of the Bible and is also co-owner of A Moveable Feast, a Lodi-based food truck. He is married to Carole and they have four sons. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, playing bridge and golfing.