This, my friends, is a squash blossom. It is the flower from a squash plant. And I have been seeing these things on practically every food show and menu for the past few years, but I have never eaten one.
A wonderful person I know has heard me talk of these blossoms for a few weeks now, seeing as how they are in season and so I was recently presented with my very own package of squash blossoms, straight from the Memphis Farmer's Market. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that I work for the Farmer's Market. Which is why I keep talking about it. Well you're wrong. I don't. I DO, however, volunteer my time to help them as often as I can. Why you ask? Because I love having locally grown food at my fingertips and I'll do whatever I can to help keep it in business. It's inspiring to walk around the farmer's market. It's educational, stimulating and amazing. So that's why I keep bringing it up. If you've been there you know how I feel. If you haven't, you should go. If you volunteer there, you're awesome. And if you don't, you should. And if you don't live in Memphis, make it a point to go to your own local farmer's market.
Back to squash blossoms. As soon as I got them, I started to research them. You can do a lot with them. But most of the recipes I found had them stuffed with some type of cheese and/or bacon and then battered and fried. I didn't want them to be fried. And I didn't want bacon to overpower them. I wanted to taste them, and I felt like if I fried them, they were BOUND to be delicious, but they would taste like all fried food. So I stuffed mine with cheese and baked them. Rather than cheesed and baconed them (see what I did there??) And they were awesome.
Here's What I Did:
Preheat oven to 350.
Inside of the squash blossom is a little stamen or pistil (depending on whether or not it's a male or female flower). You want to remove this part. At least that's what most of the recipes I read said. There were a few that didn't mention it at all, but I heard these parts are bitter and I wanted nothing to taint my first experience with a squash blossom. Then mix about 1 cup of ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic, 1 tablespoon of chopped chives and 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley. Salt and pepper to taste. Add this mixture to a ziplock bag and snip the corner. Now...pipe this mixture CAREFULLY into the squash blossom and twist the flower around the mixture. Cook for about 5 minutes. But keep your eye on it.
As you can see from below, you are going to lose some cheese. This may be why so many people go for the battering and then frying technique. But I assure you. This recipe is good. The squash blossom has such a delicately sweet flavor. And who the hell doesn't love herbed, garlicy cheese? And if all else fails, you tried something new. And loved it. Promise.