How to Prepare Squash Blossoms and Why You Should Eat More of Them
I recently found myself at a local Italian restaurant staring at a stunning plate full of squash blossoms. The delicate flowers were coated in batter and deep fried, then dropped to bathe in a pool of sweet marinara sauce, and finally finished with a drizzle of fresh pesto. I spooned the oval-shaped fried goodness onto my plate, and cut in to reveal a gush of soft mozzarella cheese. It was perfection.
I had only seen zucchini blossoms once, years before—also deep fried and stuffed with a ricotta, mint, and lemon blend, then served in a conical rolled newspaper. The flower is (literally) the flower that grows on the zucchini plant. The impressive bloom fades from a light green to a plate yellow, then back to a brilliant orange at the top and has a mild, fresh zucchini flavor.
Recently, I realized the delicate flowers were sneaking there way onto menus like never before and popping up all over my local farmers' market. To make the most of your blossom bounty this season, here is everything you ever wanted to know about squash blossoms. From how to buy squash blossoms to how to stuff and fry them—we have your answers.
How to Buy Squash Blossoms
You can usually find squash blossoms at your local farmers' market, and occasionally in supermarkets when zucchinis are in season from late spring to early fall. They may be labeled zucchini blossoms, squash blossoms, zucchini flowers, or squash flowers. You’ll want to look for bright blooms, and avoid wilted petals.
You may find the flower sold attached to a small squash. Those are the female flowers, and can be detached from the squash or left intact for cooking. Male flowers are sold attached to a stem. This flower itself tends to be a bit larger, but most recipes call for the stem to be removed.
How to Prep Squash Blossoms
When you begin to prepare squash blossoms, always keep in mind they are very delicate. First, gently open the petals to reveal the inside of the flower. You may use tweezers or a small scissor if necessary; carefully remove the stamens or pistils (the insides) and discard. If you’re removing the squash or stem from the base, you can do that as well at this point using small, sharp scissors. Rinse under a light stream of cold water, or use a pastry brush to remove any dirt. Drain on paper towels.
How to Stuff Squash Blossoms
Squash blossoms are often stuffed with a cheesy or seafood-based filling. For female flowers (or flowers on the smaller side) about two teaspoons is usually enough filling. For male flowers (or larger flowers) you can typically get away with a tablespoon. Very gently spoon your filling into the flower, press the top petals together, and twist to keep everything in place.
How to Fry Squash Blossoms
One of the most common ways squash blossoms are served is stuffed and deep fried. To pan-fry, simply cook them in a pat of butter until browned, turning once. You can also dredge them in a light batter and deep-fry them, as with these stuffed zucchini blossoms with herbs and goat cheese or these fried squash blossoms with corn and mozzarella.
Additional Squash Blossom Preparations
Squash blossoms can be used in a variety of ways that don’t include stuffing and frying. You can add them to vegetable stews, fold into frittatas, grate into other savory veggie pies, top pizzas with them, or add them to quesadilla filling. They’re also delicious raw in salads like shaved summer squash salad and this delicate squash blossom, avocado, and butter lettuce salad. Additionally, you can top a soup with zucchini blossoms like this corn soup with roasted poblanos and zucchini blossoms or stir them into pasta like this warm salad of summer squash with swordfish and feta and porcini-zucchini blossom orecchiette.
If you still want to stuff the squash blossom, but aren’t keen on frying, you can eat them raw like this pimiento cheese-stuffed squash blossom, baked like this stuffed squash blossom bruschetta, dredged in a batter and roasted, or seared like this blistered squash blossom.