The summer season yields not only delicious summer squash, but mother nature produces wonderful bright orange edible blossoms. You can typically find these eye catching blossoms at your local farmers market, I purchased mine at a recent visit to Orange Home Grown Farmers & Artisans Market.
I have always been curious about how I should cook these beautiful flowers, so I asked the grower of Sweredoski Farms on some creative ways to serve these intriguing ingredients. The passionate farmer suggested eating these blossoms raw, sautéed, baked or fried. With all of the mouth watering options to choose from, I decided to make fried squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta lemon herb filling.
Squash blossoms flowers are sold either attached to the squash or as a separate blossom. I love squash, so seeing the mini sized vegetables with blossoms still connected looked even more delicious and I was able to get the best of both worlds!
The tender and delicate squash blossoms require a little TLC, be careful not to rip the petals off as you gently remove the pistol from the center of flower. You can fill the blossom with any of your favorite ingredients such as, fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, mushrooms, shrimp, fresh herbs, the combinations are endless!
To create the perfect crispy and golden brown coating, I decided to experiment with two different types of batter:
- Combination of all-purpose and cake flour: The protein content in the cake flour is lower, so this helps provide a lighter coating when combined with regular flour as less gluten formation occurs. This coating was still crunchy, yet thicker but not as crispy. This type of coating would work better with protein like fish or more hearty frying ingredients, however if you like a thicker texture, its a great option.
- Gluten-free flour: I used Cup 4 Cup, a flour blend combination of cornstarch, white rice flour, brown rice flour, milk powder, tapioca flour, potato starch and xanthan gum. These ingredients do not contain gluten, so the protein bonding does not occur as intensely, resulting in a weaker batter. When using the gluten-free flour, the coating was delightfully much lighter and crispier than the regular flour alternative. The texture reminded me much more of a Japanese tempura coating which was perfect for the delicate squash blossoms.
Both coatings gave the crispiness and golden brown color I was hoping for, it’s just a matter of personal preference if you enjoy something lighter or a little more dense. I have included both options in the recipe, so if you feel adventurous, try them both!
To make the savory fried squash blossoms even more irresistible, I made a sweet and delicate dipping sauce. To my delight, heirloom tomatoes are also in season, so I made an simple herb tomato sauce, the perfect compliment to the crispy blossoms.
I created a quick video of the recipe, enjoy:
TIP #1: Using a liquid like soda or beer to incorporate into the batter helps to lighten the coating. The bubbles (carbon dioxide) becomes incorporated into the batter, resulting in a light a crispy exterior!
TIP #2: When deep frying food, you want to use a vegetable oil like soybean, peanut and canola oil that have high smoke points (when the oil begins to break down). In order to achieve the perfect golden brown color, temperatures between 325°F and 400°F are used for deep frying; 375°F is used for the fried squash blossom recipe. These high temperatures allow for quick cooking, surface browning and yummy aromas to be developed.
- 16 squash blossoms, pistil carefully removed from the center
- ½ cup all-purpose flour*
- ½ cup cake flour (not self-rising)*
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 cup sparkling water (I used Pellegrino)
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- * Gluten-free flour can be substituted for cake and all-purpose flour, use 1 cup total (I prefer Cup4Cup brand)
- 1 cup whole-milk ricotta
- 1 tablespoon basil, chopped
- 1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon mint, chopped
- 1 teaspoon chives, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon thyme, chopped (5 sprigs thyme)
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt, add more to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
- ¼ cup finely chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- Pinch chili flakes
- 2 cups peeled, seeded, and diced Heirloom tomatoes (any variety can be substituted)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 4 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and chopped
- 4 basil leaves, chiffonade
- In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients; whisk together both flours (or gluten-free flour), baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt.
- Gradually add the sparkling water, adding more as necessary so that batter is a thin consistency. The batter should coat the back of a spoon, but some excess batter should run off the spoon. Allow to rest in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before use.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and heat.
- Add the onion, garlic, and chili flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Lower the heat and cook until the tomatoes start to disintegrate and mixture is of sauce consistency, about 15 minutes.
- Add the thyme, basil, and remaining olive oil (1-2 tablespoons) and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature, reserve.
- While the batter is chilling, prepare the squash blossoms.
- Carefully separate the flower petals without breaking them and remove the pistil in the center. Combine the cheese, basil, parsley, mint, chives, thyme, lemon peel, olive oil, salt and pepper until smooth.
- Place mixture in a piping bag or small plastic bag and cut a small hole on the tip. Carefully add about 1-2 teaspoons of the cheese mixture to each blossom and twist the top of the flower tight.
- Fill a deep pot 2 inches high with vegetable oil. Heat over medium-high heat until it reaches 375 °F on a deep-fry thermometer.
- Hold the squash blossoms by the stem. Dip each into the batter, making sure to coat completely. Let any excess batter drip off. Place the blossom in the oil and fry until golden brown and crispy, about 1 to 2 minutes, turning often to brown evenly. Transfer to a paper towel lined tray. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve and enjoy the fried blossoms immediately and serve with Heirloom Tomato Sauce.