Sunday, July 01, 2007

Squash Blossom Time

I'm a sucker when it comes to trying new things at the farmers' market.

You might think that this indicates a certain tendency toward a "foodie" lifestyle of always wanting the latest, trendiest dish on my dinner table, but I prefer to look at it as my conscious attempt to put my picky past well behind me, at least once in a while. (Because really, I tend to reach for old favorites more than new and exotic finds.)

Last year, Dear Reader Tina intrigued me with her tale of finding squash blossoms at her local farmers' market. I was insanely jealous, because I had read about stuffing squash blossoms with cheese and frying them for a treat. Heck, I probably have half a dozen different squash blossom recipes in my copy of Edible Flowers! But not having had the wit to try any of them when I actually grew squash in my own home garden, I was miffed that I didn't have the opportunity to try them when Tina did.

That all changed this weekend when, during my third or fourth circuit of the farmers' market, I found delicate little patty pan squash with the blossoms attached. I snagged a pint, thrilled with my find, and when I ran into the Bistro Chef later in the market, I asked for his suggestions, and he recommended sauteing a little onion and garlic in butter, then adding the squash (with stuffed blossoms) and braising the lot.

Well, it wasn't the advice I had expected, but I thought, well, why not? So this afternoon I set out ingredients, chopped herbs to mix into the strained yogurt cheese I would use as a filling, and rinsed and prepped the squash blossoms (by opening the flowers and removing the stamens).


It took some doing -- man, this is fussy work! -- but I did get the blossoms somewhat filled with the yogurt cheese, tying them together with chives.


I melted the butter along with some olive oil in my big, deep skillet, and I sauteed green garlic and fresh spring onions before adding the squash and blossoms. I poured in some water, covered the skillet, and let it simmer. Later in the process, I added some fresh spinach leaves and pushed them to the side just to steam, then sprinkled more fresh herbs on top.

Now, the Bistro Chef didn't tell me how long to braise the squash, and since I don't usually grab patty pans, I wasn't sure. So I'll tell you right now, I let everything cook for too long. The squash were meltingly soft, which was great, but the blossoms looked tired and limp, and the spinach was definitely overcooked.


It's not one of my greatest successes, by any means, as it all tasted overcooked and actually bland in spots. But it was a good try, and it doesn't entirely discourage me from trying something similar again sometime, as long as (A) I handle the blossoms separately, (B) stuff them with goat cheese and different herbs, and (C) try pan-frying them. (Columbus Foodie recently tried deep-frying them, which she also found to be fussy and frustrating, so I'm thinking a happy medium might be worthwhile.)

And maybe next time I'll really like them! At least it's worth a try...

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