CSA Squash Blossoms, Two Ways

Squash Blossoms
Pretty little squash blossoms, aka zucchini flowers

If someone asked me what my favorite time of year is, I would have to say CSA season, of course! Just recently I stopped by my local farm to pick up my first CSA basket and I was overjoyed to also be gifted with 4 beautiful squash blossoms.

Squash blossoms, or zucchini flowers, are the golden, edible flower from the squash plant. You can find them during the spring and even into the fall. They are extremely delicate and have a mild flavor, similar to the squash itself.  Once harvested, eat them as soon as possible or store them in the refrigerator for a day or two.

Italy Squash Blossoms
I spy squash blossoms in Italy

During the summer of 2014, I lived in Italy where squash blossoms are plentiful. They can be found at the local markets and even in the grocery stores. This is where I first tried my hand at cooking squash blossoms. However, they are much harder to come by here in the states, which is why I was so excited to learn that my local farm would be selling them.

In Italy, they are typically stuffed, battered and fried.  But you can also bake them, steam them, eat them raw, or shred them as a garnish in salads.

Squash Blossoms
Straight from the farm

So what did I do with those 4 beautiful blossoms? I put a healthier spin on things and tested them two ways – fried and in the raw. My favorite way to enjoy the blossom was actually in the raw stuffed with a tangy, spicy goat cheese.


A few notes:

*I have a gluten sensitivity (plus gluten is a naturally inflammatory food), so instead of using wheat flour, I opted for a chickpea flour. In order to make chickpea flour, simply buy chickpeas in their dry form and grind them in a high speed blender like a Vitamix. Easy peasy and the crust is nice and crispy!

**Dairy is an inflammatory food that I try to limit, but when I do use it in a recipe, I choose goat or sheep’s milk as it is easier to digest. This recipe calls for organic goat cheese.

***I chose to fry the blossoms in coconut oil, as this has a higher smoke point than olive oil. I thought there might be a coconut after taste, but surprisingly, there was not. You could also use avocado oil, another high heat oil. Stay away from harmful vegetable oils like soybean, canola, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, rapeseed, etc.

****Olives are a great food to enjoy as they are high in healthy fats, but it can be difficult to find olives without extra ingredients like canola oil, sunflower oil, or preservatives. Be sure to read the ingredient label to help you make a healthier selection. The olives I found were stored in water and salt, which is great in my book!


Tangy, Spicy Goat Stuffing
Tangy and spicy goat cheese stuffing

Stuffed Blossoms
Stuffed squash blossoms ready to be eaten or fried
Squash Blossoms
Squash Blossoms tested three ways: 1. A large blossom fried in chickpea flour 2. A medium blossom fried in chickpea flour, no egg 3. A raw squash blossom, stuffed and drizzled with EVOO

Recipe #1

Fried Squash Blossoms
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
4-6 local, fresh squash blossoms

For the stuffing:
1 small log of organic goat cheese (4 oz)
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp lemon or lime zest
4 large green olives with jalapeno, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh mint, shredded

For the batter:
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup sparkling wine
1 egg 

1/4-1/2 cup coconut oil, enough to cover the squash blossoms
Salt to taste

Directions
Mix all ingredients for the stuffing. After removing any dirt or bugs from the blossoms (blowing gently into the flower will help open it up), stuff them with the cheese mixture. You can take a small knife and cut a slit down one side to help you stuff. You don’t want to overstuff as this makes it harder to cook. Spoon in just enough that you can still close the flower back up.

Mix ingredients for the batter, adding more sparkling wine as needed to get a nice consistency. It should not be too liquidy but not too thick either. Mix the batter right before you use it so you can utilize the carbonation from the wine (or water).

Heat your oil in pan. Carefully dunk each blossom in batter and then place in the oil. Flip once the batter crisps up. Remove from pan and lay on paper towel to absorb excess oil. Serve and enjoy!

*Don’t worry if you don’t have sparkling wine, you can mix sparkling water and white wine instead. It works just as well!

**I tested the recipe with and without the egg in the batter and both came out great. So if you have an egg allergy the recipe still works without it.


Recipe #2

Squash Blossoms in the Raw (my favorite way)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
4-6 local, fresh squash blossoms

For the stuffing:
1 small log of organic goat cheese (4 ounces)
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp lemon or lime zest
4 large green olives with jalapeno, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh mint, shredded

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt

Directions
Mix all ingredients for the stuffing. After removing any dirt or bugs from the blossoms (blowing gently into the flower will help open it up), stuff them with the cheese mixture. You can take a small knife and cut a slit down one side to help you stuff. No need to overstuff. Spoon in just enough that you can still close the flower back up.

Drizzle with EVOO and then sprinkle with some salt to taste. Serve and enjoy!

*Don’t worry if you don’t have sparkling wine, you can mix sparkling water and white wine instead. It works just as well!

**I tested the recipe with and without the egg in the batter and both came out great. So if you have an egg allergy the recipe still works without it.


Have you come across squash blossoms? Or do you happen to grow them yourself? What are your favorite ways to prepare and eat the blossoms? Share your thoughts!