By Eva Kosmas Flores
The garden is bustling nowadays, with the summer sun fueling the growth of a wide variety of my heirloom veggie collection, including lots and lots of squash. While it does take a while for squash to reach maturity, there’s another little treat from the squash vine that you can enjoy long before the squash itself is ripe, and that’s its giant golden blossoms. They hold their shape quite well, which makes them the perfect vessel for stuffing with a thick cheese mixture and then breading and frying, which is exactly what happens in the recipe below. It’s the perfect appetizer for the early summer, since you can incorporate a wide variety of whatever extra veggies you have on hand in the filling, too. This one calls for grated zucchini, but you could easily substitute chopped asparagus, leeks, or even peas instead. The seasonal produce bin is your oyster.
1 medium zucchini, peeled and grated
1 and 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Gourmet Mediterranean Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Hot Hungarian Paprika
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup flour
Vegetable oil for frying
12 large squash blossoms
Take a handful of the grated zucchini and squeeze it between your hands over a large bowl to rid it of as much excess water as possible. Set the drained zucchini in a separate bowl, and repeat until you’ve drained all the zucchini. Mix with the ricotta, 1 egg, garlic cloves, McCormick Gourmet Mediterranean Oregano, McCormick Gourmet Hot Hungarian Paprika, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper until combined. Use a tablespoon to get a heaping spoonful of the mixture and scoop it into the squash blossom until it is about two-thirds full. Fold the last third of the petals over the filling and press down gently to seal.
Add the vegetable oil to a large frying pan so that it is about 1-inch deep. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until a drop of water flicked into the pan hisses and sizzles. Lower heat to medium to maintain temperature.
Mix together the flour and remaining salt and pepper in a medium-sized shallow dish. Whisk the remaining egg in a small bowl and lightly brush the outside of each squash blossom with the whisked egg mixture. Roll the blossom in the flour mixture, shaking it gently afterwards to remove any excess flour. Repeat until the squash blossoms are all lightly floured.
Use a slotted spoon to add them to the frying pan, one at a time, maintaining an inch of space around each one. Cook until lightly golden, about 3-5 minutes on each side. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Serve immediately.