Cooking with Mara – Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Ricotta and Basil

I have fond memories of my father’s garden that was always springing forth with some new delight. Late spring brought the first of the squash blossoms, a flower I liked to pick as a child and bring into my mother for a bouquet. But as far as my father and grandmother were concerned they were for eating. My grandmother liked to dip the blossoms in egg and flour then fry them – delicious, yes – but a little heavy. In this rendition one can leave the flour out yielding a very delicate morsel, one that allows the mellow flavor of the blossom to come forth, blending beautifully with a touch of fresh basil.

You won’t have to count carbohydrates or protein when eating squash blossoms, but these flowers do offer calcium and iron and are especially high in vitamins C and A.  Because the flower is so delicate it is unusual to find them in the super market, but fortunately can now be found in Farmers Markets. The flower will keep no longer than a day, so plan on making these over the weekend. Then if you do have leftovers, you can eat the prepared flower the next day for an absolutely delicious lunch. Ricotta is a good source of protein. Trade a milk box for this recipe.

I served the squash as a starter to a vegetarian meal that included Santa Maria Pinquito beans from Rancho Gordo (look for this recipe on June 4th). In lieu of the beans, a piece of fish, such as sole, halibut or rock cod would also pair nicely with the squash blossoms.

Serving size: 4 stuffed flowers

Jumpstart Boxes: 1 P Per Serving

Servings: 4

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 16-18 fresh squash blossoms
  • 2 cups part skim ricotta
  • ¼ cup basil, cut into a chiffonade
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • black pepper
  • One egg
  • Olive oil for pan

Preparation:

  1. Tap each blossom gently to encourage any critters, such as ants, out of the blossom.
  2. Pick the leaves of basil off the stem, stack a few leaves and roll them length wise into a little cylinder, then cut the leaves into thin strips, known as a chiffonade (French for ribbon)
  3. Place the ricotta, salt, basil and a few grinds of pepper in a bowl and mix the ingredients well
  4. With a teaspoon in one hand and the squash blossom in the other gently stuff each blossom with the ricotta mixture to about ¾ of the way, then pinch the top of the blossom to enclose the mixture. Each flower should hold about 1 ½ tablespoons of ricotta.
  5. Whisk the egg in a stainless steel bowl, set aside for a moment
  6. Start heating a cast iron or non-stick pan over medium heat and place a teaspoon of olive oil in the pan, tilting the pan to coat, or you can brush or spray the oil onto the pan
  7. Dip each flower in the egg, rolling the flower gently to coat evenly
  8. Place the flower onto the heated pan and cook until golden – about 3-4 minutes – then, using a fork, roll the flower onto another side – you should roll the flower 3 times, each time browning the flower prior to rolling (you can cook a few blossoms at a time)
  9. Remove prepared blossoms, place on a paper towel, then plate and sprinkle a bit of salt over the flowers and a grind or two of pepper – you can even add some lemon zest to brighten the flavor a bit more!

Note:  Some like to poach the blossoms. I’m not fond of this method as the filling can leach out of the flower.  I would encourage you, however, to try cooking just a few this way to see what you think.  To poach the blossoms, simply add an egg to the ricotta and mix well, then stuff the blossom and pinch the top to close the top of the flower. Lower the blossom into a pot of gently boiling water with a slotted spoon and cook for about 6 minutes. Scoop the flower out with the slotted spoon, drain well then place on a serving dish. You can drizzle a little pesto or a teaspoon of butter over the blossoms.

Ingredients for stuffed squash blossoms:

Squash Blossom Ingredients

Picking basil leaves off stem:

Squash Blossom Picking Basil Leaves off Stem

Cutting the basil into a chiffonade:

Squash Blossom Cutting the Basil into a Chiffonade

Stuffing the squash blossom with the ricotta/basil mixture:

Squash Blossom Stuffing the Blosson with the Ricotta & Basil Mixture

Whisking the whole egg:

Squash Blossom Whisking the Whole Egg

Coating the stuffed bloss0m in the whisked egg:

Squash Blossom Coating the Stuffed Blossom in the Whisked Egg

Frying blossom in a small amount of olive oil:

Squash Blossom Frying the Blossum in a Small Amount of Olive Oil

Ready to eat! Finished squash blossom stuffed with ricotta and basil:

Squash Blossom Stuffed with Basil and Ricotta

 

About Mara Iaconi