Pan Fried Squash Blossom Salad

We’re quickly getting to the time during the CSA delivery season where I drown in summer squashes. Personally, I just don’t understand the appeal of squash, be they summer or winter. They’re just so many of them that I never seem to find enough ways to use them up yet keep them new and interesting. So with the first notice that our share box would have summer squash, I was nonplussed, to say the least, until I actually saw them:

They still had their squash blossoms! I have so wanted to try fried and stuffed squash blossoms, a staple of Italian cooking and this could be my opportunity to do so. Only problem? There were only three– not enough to justify in my mind the trouble of pulling out the deep fryer, making a mess of batter, and dealing with the quart plus of hot frying oil. Yes, that’s right– for once, I actually wished for more squash!

I rather reluctantly tried to let go of the idea of frying them. Having never worked with squash blossoms before, I looked around on the web for recipe ideas. One page was highly informative, and I started to settle on making a squash blossom fritatta, but it’d have to wait for Saturday brunch since I already had started working on ingredients for that night’s dinner. Sadly, the same website advised that squash blossoms are extremely delicate and should be used right away.

I decided I had to find another way to use my three little blossoms; otherwise they’d be a wasted opportunity. I continued my search and came across another recipe that suggested pan frying the blossoms. Bingo! A way that I could try the tasty, crunchy, cheesy blossoms but without all the mess that always accompanies deep-frying!

I giddily set about beating an egg and pouring panko crumbs. As for the cheese stuffing, I saw recommendations for creamy cheeses like ricotta or fresh mozzarella, but all I had on hand was your regular shredded mozzarella. I mixed some together with fresh basil and green garlic, then carefully heaped some in each blossom. Quickly dipped in the egg wash, then coated in the panko, I lightly fried them in the pan while prepping a salad mix. Each blossom came out golden brown.

Since there were two of us but there were three blossoms, I carefully set one whole blossom on each salad and split the third one in half, carefully resting the half one against the whole one. The half blossom was so beautiful– golden exterior, light green ring around bright white cheese that sat on top of pale orange stamens. And these were just as delicious to eat as they were pretty to look at: after a crunch that is every bit as satisfying as the first time you sink your teeth into a piece of fried chicken, the blossom, with its delicate slightly sweet and floral taste and texture is an amazing contrast. Add to it, my first bite resulted in a beautiful string of stretchy, melted mozzarella cheese, making me feel like I was eating a healthier version of a fried cheese stick. So perfect– I can’t help but long this year’s inundation of squash… as long as we’ve got blossoms.

Note: Three blossoms were great for making two side salads, but I bet you could stretch this out to make four beautiful first course salads by splitting each one in half then serving them cut side up so that everyone gets greeted by those lovely colors.

  • Three squash blossoms
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 teaspoons fresh basil chiffonade
  • 1 small green garlic clove, minced
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 head flashy butter gem lettuce, chopped or torn
  • 1/2 head butter crunch lettuce, chopped or torn
  • 1/2 cup chopped snow peas
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper

Gently rinse off any dirt from squash blossoms. In a small bowl, mix together the mozzarella, basil, and minced garlic. Open up the blossoms, being careful not to break off the petals. Stuff each blossom with enough of the cheese mixture to fill it 3/4 of the way. Close the blossoms by twisting together the tops of the petals.

Heat 1/4 cup of canola oil in the bottom of a small, heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat. Beat the egg in a small bowl and pour panko crumbs out on a plate. Dip each blossom in the egg, carefully letting any excess egg drip off into the bowl before rolling in the crumbs. Scoop panko crumbs on top of blossom to ensure that each side is coated then set down in the hot oil. Fry until golden, about 2 minutes per side, reducing heat to medium if necessary to avoid burning. Remove to paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

While squash blossoms are frying, wash and spin dry lettuce and snow peas. Make the dressing in a small bowl by whisking together the lemon juice, olive oil, honey, and mustard then season with salt and pepper to taste. Plate the salad mixture and drizzle with salad dressing, Set blossoms on top of salad.

CSA Count: 6

Squash blossoms, basil, green garlic, flashy butter gem lettuce, butter crunch lettuce, snow pea pods


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