Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Squash Blossom Fritters

My love... I found you at last. Sweet, tender squash blossoms. How did I survive so long without you?

For years I've been reading the praises of squash blossoms all around the blogosphere and wanted to try them... but never finding them at the grocery store created a challenge.

You can imagine what an unexpected pleasure it was to find some at the farmer's market. Four dollars worth gave me an quart basket so overflowing it could have filled two!

When I got them home I was suddenly perplexed. Now what do I do? They were delicate, with firm bud-ends that were almost prickly with veggie-fur. I wasn't so sure I wanted to eat these, after all.

A little bit of research resulted in the following information:

  • The Seasonal Chef told me that there are two types of squash blossoms--male and female. The blossoms are also relatively short-lived and should be cooked up quickly.

  • The Gastronomical Three indicated that they are delicious stuffed and pan-fried.

  • The Inadvertant Gardener gave a hilarious review that the blossoms should contain neither bug nor stamen.

  • Simply everyone seems to suggest stuffing these little fellers before coating with flour and pan-frying.
I didn't. Stuff them, I mean. I didn't have the ingredients--my refrigerator was sadly missing cream cheese, or jack, or cheddar; with my blossoms on the verge of death at any moment, I felt that time was of the essence.

Enter Fritter Mode. When in doubt, batter it!

I spent quite a bit of time gently washing each and every blossom, removing stems (as mine were male) and fuzzy centers (stamens? pistils? I don't know... they were yellow, fluffy and sticky), as well as the errant bug or three.

As my newly washed boatload of blossoms dried carefully, I whipped up a thick batter and, one at a time, plunged the flowers inside for a good coat before plunking them into hot olive oil.

It was really, really easy after all. The batter coated a good dozen flowers, which were more than enough for a satisfying lunch for one. The fuzzy exterior of the blossoms melted into a tender mouth-feel that was just right. I can imagine that a lovely filling of, perhaps, herbed cream cheese, would have been delicious... but these were delightful just as they were.

As for the rest of my squash blossom bounty, I placed them gently in a paper towel-lined freezer bag in the fridge. They've been fine and perfectly edible for five more days. I plan to chop the remainder and saute them into a lovely frittata for lunch.

Don't be afraid of these little gems. Squash blossoms are a treat not to be missed.

Squash Blossom Fritters
makes about a dozen fritters

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup fine white cornmeal (I used Indian Head brand)
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese (or parmesan)
pinch salt
ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups milk

squash blossoms
vegetable oil for frying

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, cheese, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl or cup, combine the egg and milk and pour into the dry mixture, whisking to incorporate. Don't worry if there are a few lumps. The batter should be thick.

One at a time, gently roll squash blossoms in the batter and into your waiting pan of hot oil. When the edges start to turn golden, flip fritters and fry on the other side. When both sides are lightly browned, drain on paper towels before devouring.


Andy said...

I had fried squash blossoms in Italy a couple times and they were amazing. They were also unstuffed, so be proud to do it like the Italians!

Amanda said...

Thank you, Andy! :)

Mary said...

I thought about stuffing and frying my squash blossoms this summer, but I decided that I would rather have squash. As luck would have it my squash plants developed powder mildew and promptly all died. As a result, very little squash and no blossoms eaten. It was fairly depressing. Now I know to eat a few blossoms.

Amanda said...

Oh, Mary, that's too bad about your squash. What a shame to have missed out on both. I hate that powder mildew--I once had a lovely jasmine tree that suffered from it.

Evidently the female blossoms are the only ones that turn into the actual vegetable; the male blossoms (which are what I bought) never become anything more than the flower, so they can be eaten with abandon without sacrificing the vegetable crop... hence their plentiful presence at my farmer's market.

Sam said...

I'm desperate to try these but I can't get them anywhere, maybe I'll grow my own next year!

Amanda said...

I felt the same way last year, Sam. Maybe you could ask some farmer's market/greenmarket vendors? Most sellers just let the blossoms become the squash, but if they know you want the blossoms, they might get you some.

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