Squash, also known as cucurbita pepo or courgette, is a herbaceous vine in the gourd family. It is native to the Mesoamerica and Andes region. Several species of the plant are cultivated worldwide for their edible fruits, leaves, and flowers and are commonly known as pumpkin, zucchini or gourd depending on the locality, variety, and species. Squash produces orange or yellow flowers with male and female features. Since these flowers are highly perishable, eating squash blossoms is a delicate affair as they are rarely stocked in food stores and supermarkets but occasionally can be found in farmers’ markets.
Squash flowers have been used for culinary purposes since time immemorial. In Asia, the blossoms are fried in batter to make a tasty, crunchy, tempura-like snack. In Italy, the flowers are stuffed and baked for savory packets while Native Americans were fond of making squash-blossom soup.
Fried squash flowers
From Italy to Mexico, frying is a highly popular method of preparing squash blossoms. To fry the flowers, just batter and fry them or stuff the blossoms first. For fillings, you can use goat cheese, ricotta, and fresh mozzarella. You can also add lemon zest to the cheese or season the fried blossoms with a dash of coarse salt and lemon juice.
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Oven roasted stuffed squash flowers
Roasting squash blossoms rather than frying them turns the flowers into a delicious, light, summer dish.
8 squash flowers, stamen removed
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 ounces goat cheese
3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 bunch rainbow chard-leaves chopped and stems removed
3 cloves garlic, minced
Ground black pepper and salt to taste.
Process: Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan, toss in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add chard as you stir and cook until soft. Put in salt, basil, and pepper and cook for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and place the cooled mixture between 2 towels, and press to get rid of excess moisture.
Add chard and goat cheese mixture in a bowl and stir until thoroughly mixed up. Fill squash blossoms with 3/4 of the goat cheese and close the ends by pinching them. Place the filled flowers in a roasting pan; sprinkle the mixture with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, pepper, and salt. Put in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes.
Ultimately, people have been eating squash blossoms for generations and these blossoms still hold their coveted place in the culinary world. So, how about trying some zucchini blossom recipes for dinner?