squash blossoms on a plate

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

Squash blossoms — the dainty edible flowers of the zucchini plant — are the farmers market arrival I look forward to most. They usually make their debut in late July, and the beautiful yellow-orange flowers (also called zucchini flowers or zucchini blossoms) always call my name. While there are a number of ways to prepare them, my favorite way to eat them is stuffed, battered, and fried for the best summer appetizer I know.

Fried squash blossoms, or fiori di zucca fritti, are a classic Italian delicacy. My colleague Amelia describes them as “little cheesy dumplings,” and I personally cannot think of a better way to start a meal. Here’s my favorite way to make them.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

What Do Squash Blossoms Taste Like?

While you may assume squash blossoms have a fragrant, floral taste, they actually have a very mild flavor, which makes them really versatile. In fact, the only flavor you may pick up on is that they taste a bit like squash! The petals have a soft, delicate texture, and practically melt in your mouth once they’re fried.

After bringing home your squash blossoms, it’s important to use them right away — ideally within two days. As they sit in the fridge, they begin to wilt, which makes them more prone to tearing during the filling, battering, and frying processes. Before you cook with them you’ll want to gently rinse them to remove any dirt or debris and remove the stems and stamens, as those parts are not edible.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

What’s the Best Filling for Fried Squash Blossoms?

The best squash blossom filling is simple and customizable: ricotta, garlic, fresh herbs, lemon juice, an egg for binding, and salt and pepper. While high-quality ricotta cheese is a non-negotiable, any other cheese additions — such as grated Parmesan, crumbled fresh goat cheese, or shredded mozzarella — are up to you.

The herbs can vary as well. Basil and mint are classic options, but fresh dill or chives work great, too. Experiment with cheeses and herbs to create the perfect filling for you.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

Filling, Frying and Serving Squash Blossoms

After you’ve prepared the ricotta mixture, use a piping bag or a zip-top bag with the corner cut off to fill the blossoms. This will make your life much easier than using a spoon. Carefully pipe about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of filling into each blossom, and then gently twist the ends of the blossoms to keep the filling from falling out.

To make the batter, mix flour and salt with the fizzy liquid of your choice: seltzer, club soda, or light-colored beer. The fizz will create air bubbles in the batter, which trap in moisture and produce a light and airy final product. Whichever you use, make sure it’s cold: Cold liquid is crucial for thickening the batter to the right consistency, and prevents the batter from absorbing too much oil during frying.

Then, working in batches of five or six, dip each blossom into the batter, twisting the open end again if the petals start to open. Add to the oil and fry, turning once, until golden-brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fried blossoms to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, then serve immediately.

Fried Squash Blossoms

YieldServes 4 to 5

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes to 15 minutes

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 14 to 16

    zucchini squash blossoms

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 6

    large fresh basil leaves

  • 1 tablespoon

    fresh mint leaves, dill, or chives

  • 3/4 cup

    whole-milk ricotta cheese

  • 1/2 cup

    cheese, such as grated Parmesan, crumbled fresh goat cheese, or shredded low-moisture mozzarella

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1 tablespoon

    lemon juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

For the batter:

  • 3/4 cup

    cold seltzer, club soda, or light-colored beer

  • 1/2 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 1/2 cups

    vegetable oil, for deep-frying

Equipment

Instructions

  1. Prepare the blossoms. Trim the stems from 14 to 16 squash blossoms. Remove the stamen inside the blossoms. Gently rinse to remove any potential dirt or debris. Place on paper towels or a kitchen towel to dry.

  2. Chop the aromatics. Prepare the following, placing them in a medium bowl as you complete them: Mince 2 garlic cloves (about 1 tablespoon). Finely chop until you have 2 tablespoons fresh basil and 1 tablespoon fresh mint, dill, or chives.

  3. Make the filling. Add 3/4 cup ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup cheese of choice, 1 large egg, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Whisk until combined.

  4. Stuff the zucchini squash blossoms. Transfer the filling into a piping bag or a large zip-top bag with the tip cut off. Gently open each squash blossom and pipe the filling inside. Fill to just below where the petals begin to separate, 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons each. Twist the open end of each blossom to prevent the filling from falling out.

  5. Heat the oil and make the batter. Fill a large heavy-bottomed, high-sided skillet with 1/2-inch oil (about 1 1/2 cups) and heat the oil over medium-high heat to 375°F. Place 3/4 cup seltzer, club soda, or light-colored beer; 1/2 cup all-purpose flour; and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. (The batter will be thin.)

  6. Dip and fry the blossoms. Working in batches of 5 to 6, dip each blossom into the batter one at a time. Add to the oil and fry, flipping once, until golden-brown, about 2 minutes per side. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fried blossoms to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat dipping and frying the remaining blossoms, making sure the oil is at 375ºF for each batch.

 

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