They say girls like receiving flowers. Turns out I like eating them. Don’t worry, your flowers are safe. I don’t go around and willy-nilly pick off a peony or snap a rose off of a shrub and munch away. But if I see squash blossoms, zucchini flowers or whatever you choose to call them, guaranteed my heart will start to beat a little faster.
My interest in floral consumption started several years ago when we were new homeowners. You see, our former hometown had a huge, amazing farmer’s market each Saturday morning to which we would routinely ride our bikes. I quickly learned that the trendy items that were quick to sell out early each weekend included bright orange squash blossoms. A little internet browsing later, I found multiple delicious sounding recipes and soon enough, bunches of blossoms in hand, I was cooking.
Now this summer has been a bit crazy. My dates with the weekend farmer’s market have been far less than regular. Instead, trips along the long stretch of highway between Kansas City and Des Moines filled our weekends as a “Sold” sign appeared in our yard and boxes and packing tape began to fill the empty floor spaces inside our house. Instead of hot dogs, apple pie and fireworks for the 4th, we hauled boxes and furniture under the relentless Midwestern sun. It seems I’m also death to air conditioners this summer, with no fewer than six repairs and one new air conditioner under my belt between the two residences. And you wonder why it has been a bit quiet here?
And so we closed the chapter on Des Moines and in this brief respite from moving (albeit not from the heat – thank goodness for a working AC!), I’ve found myself strolling in the morning sun, gazing across tables filled with tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, berries, and wait – squash blossoms! I beelined through the crowd, leaving B to apologize to the people I cut off or cut in front of as I made my way to the table and grasped my treasures. In our new barbeque-centric hometown, it seemed only appropriate that we make this recipe first.
ricotta and pulled pork stuffed squash blossoms
recipe: adapted from Bobby Flay
2 bunches of fresh squash blossoms (keep in water like regular flowers and refrigerate for up to 1 day – they are delicate)
1 1/2 c. ricotta
1/2 lb. best quality pulled pork (you can certainly smoke your own, but we usually buy from our favorite BBQ joint)
1/4 c. barbeque sauce
2 c. rice flour
2 c. ice water
1/3 c. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Snip squash blossoms from stems and place in a large bowl filled with cold water. Gently swish around and let any dirt or debris fall to the bottom of the bowl. Remove flowers and tip upside down to remove any excess water. Peel off the sepals (long green leaves at the base of the flower) and gently open the flower petals. Note: you may find a few little bugs, this is common as the flowers are typically open when picked and the bugs get trapped inside. It is worth noting that I found a bee once, so do be careful (this was 1 out of hundreds of squash blossoms, so odds are you won’t find a bee). Gently pull out the stamen and set the blossom on a towel to dry. Don’t worry if you tear the flower slightly. Repeat with remaining blossoms.
As blossoms dry, combine ricotta, pulled pork and barbeque sauce in a medium bowl. Season to taste and set aside. Combine rice vinegar, Dijon, and honey in a small bowl. Whisk thoroughly and begin slowly drizzling in olive oil. Continue adding oil until mixture is emulsified. Season lightly with salt but liberally with black pepper. Taste and adjust to your preference. Set aside.
To fill blossoms, gently push about 1 tsp. filling down to the base of the flower. Continue to fill until you are nearly to the top of the flower where the petals start to flare out. If you have torn the flower a bit, wrap the edges together to form a seal and lightly twist the tops of the petals together. Repeat with remaining blossoms.
Fill a large frying pan about halfway with canola oil and heat over medium high heat. As oil is warming up, combine rice flour and cold water. Stir well to combine. Dip a blossom into the rice flour batter and place in hot oil. Repeat with four or five other blossoms, depending on the size of your pan. Fry for about 2 minutes per side and carefully remove from oil. Stir rice flour batter again and repeat with four or five additional blossoms. Repeat until all blossoms have been fried.
Serve immediately while hot with black pepper vinaigrette.
Stay cool friends!
All content and photographs © 2010-2011 jb’s pour house