WASHINGTON, May 15, 2013 - The squash blossoms you’ll find at farm stands and markets this time of year are the flower of female zucchini plants. (All squashes flower but it’s the zucchini’s that is popular as an edible treat.) They’re plentiful in Latin cooking, where they’re most popularly fried but they can be used raw as well in salads or baked atop pizza among other applications.
I asked Chef Annette Tomei to share with me the secret to her squash blossom recipe. Annette’s sauted squash blossoms offer an Italian and aphrodisiac array of flavors. Some may be surprised to learn that cheese is a noted aphrodisiac ingredient. The silky texture of ricotta with a spark of acidic lemon and the delicate perfume of the squash blossoms make this a perfect dish for a night of seduction.
Sautéed Squash Blossoms
By Chef Annette Tomei
(Makes enough for 2 dozen blossoms)
1 lb part skim ricotta
1 1/2 - 2 T fresh chives, finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon
salt & black pepper to taste
1. Thoroughly mix the ricotta and egg. Gently fold in the chives and zest then season with salt and pepper. Scoop the mixture into a sandwich-sized Ziplock bag.
2. Gently wash and dry 20-24 squash blossoms.
3. Cut one of the two bottom corners of the ricotta-stuffed Ziplock to make a homemade pastry bag. Squeeze the stuffing from the bag into the cup of each blossom, filling until the blossom is about 3/4 full. Fold the tops of the petals over to form a seal around the filling. Sprinkle the outside of the blossoms with additional salt and black pepper.
4. While you’re stuffing the blossoms, you can be heating the oil in a heavy sauté pan. Annette used a neutral oil to allow the delicate flavor of the squash to shine. (Good choices include grape seed, soybean or walnut oil.) Being the consummate chef, Annette merely eyeballed the oil but I’d hazard a guess that she used about 2 tablespoons. (Use enough to thoroughly coat the bottom of your pan.)
5. Heat your oil over medium/medium high heat. The oil should be heated to that point just before it begins to bubble.
Using a sweeping motion away from your body to prevent getting splashed, drop the blossoms into the oil one at a time. Cook until brown on the bottom, approximately 3 minutes, then flip.
6. Cook until the second side is brown, another few minutes. Move the cooked blossoms to a paper towel to drain and cool slightly for about 2-3 minutes.
*The blossoms are best served hot. Just be sure to allow them to cool slightly before serving.
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