About a month ago, Niko and I instituted what may be our greatest tradition of all time – Saturday morning dates to the farmers market at Tallahassee’s Market Square pavilion. Each week, we take a leisurely drive across town to the familiar covered gathering spot where a collection of local farms congregate to peddle their edibles.
This weekend, we made the ultimate discovery – well, I did. While scouring for fresh garlic, Niko guided me over to a smaller stand run by an unfamiliar woman I hadn’t seen before. Her table was heavy with winter melons, chanterelle mushrooms, fresh green onion stalks, and two baskets full of squash blossoms. I immediately bounced on the blossoms, while Niko looked at me with a very puzzled look on his face.
“Uh, flowers for dinner?” is basically what his expression read.
Silly boy, Niko had clearly never experienced the tasty delight of noshing on an edible flower. I hadn’t eaten squash blossoms in years, let alone ever actually cooked it myself, but I was determined to make it work – so I paid the meager $3.00 for my basket of blossoms, and dumped the dainty flowers into my produce bag.
When it came to actually turning the squash blossoms into a meal, I realized I had signed up for much more than I had bargained for. Apparently, 90% of the recipes for squash blossoms recommend a very light (read: boring) filling of ricotta cheese and herbs. Niko and I were hankering for something a little heartier, so I make a filling with something more daring.
Have you ever tried to stuff a mixture of ground beef, yellow peppers, garlic, peas, sweet corn, and onions into a tiny little flower?
It ain’t easy.
After spooning my meaty medley into the easily torn blossoms, I cringed at the thought of battering and frying them. How could they possibly survive such a manhandling? I braced myself for a disaster, and dunked the first stuffed blossom into an egg bath, then doused it in a coating of flour and corn meal.
To my shock, the squash blossom didn’t fall apart. In fact, the batter coating helped to keep the stuffing from tumbling out of the flower – victory! Niko assisted me as we plopped the squash blossoms one-by-one into a frying pan, and I was once again stunned to find that not a single blossom exploded while sizzling to perfection.
Let me tell you – they were delicious. We sprinkled them with a bit of sriracha sauce for an extra kick, and it was divine. I don’t think Niko has ever been so impressed with my budding kitchen skills.
Want to make your own stuffed squash blossoms?
Here are some tips:
Get the freshest blossoms you can find. They are best when picked by hand, or if you buy them at a market, be sure to use them the same day if possible.
If you have to store your blossoms, keep them chilled in a plastic bag or Tupperware – make sure they don’t get squished in the fridge!
Be sure you remove the stamen (the little stem inside the flower that’s coated with pollen) before cooking the flowers.
When making your stuffing, try to dice up the ingredients as finely as possible to make it easier to spoon it into the flower’s narrow, and very delicate, body.
Many frying recipes call for a batter made with beer, but we just used a whipped egg. I created my own coating with flour and corn meal, and it gave the fried squash blossoms a great texture.