Squash Blossoms!

It’s still summertime, which means the Farmer’s Market remains filled with fruits and vegetables available only this time of year. I know, I know, we discussed this already here. But we haven’t talked Squash Blossoms, something truly unique and wonderful with which you can cook in the late summer.

As any gardener will tell you, squash is one of the easier things to grow and is ridiculously bountiful. As such, during the summer people are always on the lookout for inventive ways to use squash. I love layering sautéed onions, thinly sliced tomatoes and thinly sliced zucchini, layer by layer, with lots of fresh thyme, basil, salt and pepper, for a wonderful gratin. Add in a little white wine and/or broth, cover with foil and roast in the oven on 350 for 45 – 60 min (the last 15 min uncovered) and you will end up with a fresh, healthy divine dish that is redolent of summer. Squash is also great for pickling.

With squash also comes squash blossoms. For years I’ve admired these beautiful blossoms at farmer’s markets, in the store and in my own garden. But I never knew quite what to do with them so I didn’t try cooking with them.

Squash Blossoms
Fresh Squash Blossoms

Restaurants sometimes offer squash blossoms stuffed with cheese and then fried which, when done well, is terrific. But I am not much of a deep fryer at home and the recipes I looked at were too much of a pain. I finally decided to try a few inventions with squash blossoms and ended up with two dishes I know you will love.

Both have the same base:

– Sauté an onion, diced, in a little olive oil. Add a couple of cloves of thinly sliced garlic, some fresh thyme and salt & pepper.  (If you want a bit of spice, never a bad thing, add some finely diced jalapeño, serrano or red pepper. Remember the spice is in the seeds.)

– Then add a bunch of squash blossoms, chopped. Be sure to first gently wash the blossoms. Oh and tear them open before you wash and chop them to check for, you know, a creepy crawly. It’s rare but it happens.

– Saute everything down a little more until the blossoms are soft. This is a mixture I can eat by itself, with a spoon, it’s so good.

Now you have two options:

Squash Blossom Quesadillas or Baked Eggs with Squash Blossoms.

Both are very easy. And. To. Die. For.

SQUASH BLOSSOM QUESADILLAS

Quesedilla
Squash Blossom Quesadillas with Goat Cheese

– Take two tortillas (homemade if you can find them) and cover one with the squash blossom sauté base. Sprinkle with crumbled Goat Cheese. Goat cheese is my preference and is mouth-watering but any cheese will do.  Manchego would be my second choice.

– Cover with the second tortilla. In a large pan or skillet, cook the quesadilla over medium heat, flipping once. Heat until the cheese starts to melt and the entire quesadilla is warmed through. Top with a little goat cheese and fresh chives if you have them.

This is wonderful for any time of day: breakfast, lunch, supper or late night. 

BAKED EGGS WITH SQUASH BLOSSOMS 

– Cover the bottom of individual ramekins with the squash blossom sauté. At this point you can add anything you want… a little diced bacon or panchetta pre-cooked, for instance and/or some crumbled cheese of your choice, etc:

Baked Eggs SQ 1

– Drizzle a touch of cream over the ingredients. This is optional but adds a richness without a lot of calories.

– Crack two eggs in each ramekin. Top with salt and pepper.

Baked Eggs SB

– Bake the eggs on 350 for 15-18 minutes, checking them after 15. Bake until the whites are firm but the yolks still runny. You can of course cook them longer if you don’t like soft yolks and want to ruin them.

Enjoy! Let us know if you try either recipe or if you know another great recipe for the end of summer. I will be back on the 27th with what for me will be a big fun announcement.

10 thoughts on “Squash Blossoms!

  1. Tom,

    this sounds wonderful – and I love the pictures too
    I’ve never had squash blossoms, but like you would prefer them ways other than deep fried.
    I have a question about fennel – what ways do you prepare it?
    I bought some at Trader Joe’s but I haven’t used it yet.

    Debi

    1. Debi – Fennel is terrific. I used to not like it until I ate different things made with it that were wonderful. Now I love it all different ways. Let me give you a few recipes I love that use it, ones you might enjoy:

      This chicken is easy and incredible:

      http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/ROASTED-CHICKEN-WITH-CLEMENTINES-ARAK-51179661

      These are very simple:

      http://putneyfarm.com/2012/04/05/caramelized-fennel-the-best-fennel-youll-ever-eat/

      http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/roasted-fennel-with-parmesan-recipe/index.html

      Many times when I saute onions or caramelize them for a dish, I add fennel to the onion. That is a great way to use it, for any dish you will use the onions for. Try a spaghetti sauce this way, for instance… marinara or bolognese or whatever.

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