Squash Blossom Specials

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Yesterday, for the first time in years, our sharebox included a carton of squash blossoms—a dozen or so beauties, each about four inches long.

I knew they wouldn’t last long, even in the fridge, so I wanted to use them right away. There you go. A double-dip, blossom-binge day: Squash Poppers stuffed with goat cheese to accompany lunch, and Squash Blossom, Zucchini, and Green Bean Pasta for dinner.

That’s a pretty good two-fer.

Squash Blossom Poppers

Sounds way fussier than it is. These really are very simple to throw together, and you can use most any soft cheese you like (ricotta, cream cheese, goat cheese, mozz, a combo), and you can pick your dredge coating, too (I like panko, but any old crumb—or just flour—will do the trick). 

  • 2 oz cheese, softened (I used Vermont Creamery goat cheese)
  • 1 tbsp minced, fresh basil (you could use chives if you’d rather)
  • pinch each of salt and ground pepper
  • 6 squash blossoms
  • 1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, lightly smashed (or 3-4 segments of a garlic scape)

Gently open each of the flowers and pinch out the anther, the fuzzy part of the stamen that produces and holds all the pollen.

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If you’re squeamish about having yellow fingers for the rest of the day, you may want to wear gloves to pluck out the pollen-heavy anther.

Carefully rinse the flowers in cool water, give them a shake, and let them dry on a paper towel while you prep everything else.

In a small bowl or cup, mix together the cheese, basil, salt, and pepper. Get out two shallow bowls big enough to dip an individual blossom in. Beat the egg in one of them, and spread the breadcrumbs in the other.

Heat the oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When you hear a little sizzle, remove and discard the garlic.

Dip the blossoms, one at a time, in the egg, then dredge through the breadcrumbs until lightly coated.

Cook, turning once or twice, until they’re golden brown on all sides (about 3-4 minutes total). Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Serve hot with a sprinkle of sea salt.

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We ate them so fast I didn’t get any good pictures.

 

Squash Blossom Pasta with Zucchini and Beans

As visually arresting as it is delicious, this dish also comes together quickly, especially if you’ve blanched or steamed the beans ahead of time. Play with the colors: use yellow squash if you’ve got green beans, or green squash to offset wax beans. Serves two.

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  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 squash blossoms
  • 4 oz green or wax beans, trimmed (that’s just a big handful)
  • 1 small gold or green zucchini
  • 1/3 lb dried pasta (gemelli, penne, tortiglioni or other ridged, tube shape)
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped, fresh basil
  • juice and zest of half a large lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp grated Pecorino Romano cheese (or parm)

 

As above, open up the flowers and gently pinch out the anthers, then rinse and drain the flowers on a layer of paper towels. Finely chop the petals of five of the flowers. Set aside the petals from the remaining flower for garnish.

In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, lemon zest, basil, and cheese.

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I don’t usually get too particular about knife work, but we’ve been pulling back on pasta portions lately, so I thought I’d try to let our eyes fool our palates a bit by trimming the beans and the squash match the length of the pasta. Good call.

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With everything about the same size (roughly 2 inches), we packed the portions with more veggies and fewer noodles.

Either blanch or steam the beans until they’re crisp-tender, then dunk them in an ice bath or run super-cold water over them to stop the cooking. Set them aside for now.

If you went the a la minute blanch route, go ahead and use that same water to cook the pasta. If you steamed or blanched them earlier, get a fresh pot of water going. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the noodles, but hang onto about a cup of the pasta water.

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Isn’t it crazy how squash flowers taste like squash?

 

While the pasta’s working, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, immediately stirring in the sliced flower petals. Add the squash, season with salt, and sauté for a few minutes until slightly softened. Add the beans and cook for a few minutes more.

Add the drained pasta and reserved cooking water to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens and the vegetables are fully cooked. Remove from heat, stir in the lemon-herb-cheese mixture, and serve immediately, garnished with the reserved blossom petals, some basil shreds, and another sprinkling of cheese, if you like.

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We loved this dish–and talked about doing it again later this summer with limas, corn, and maybe some split Sungold tomatoes.

 

 

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