Fried Jalapeno and Goat Cheese Squash Blossoms

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After recently moving into a new house, we had a short window of opportunity to get a new planter box set up and a few things planted before the season ended. We planted a variety of plants with not much hope of a magical harvest. To our surprise, the exact opposite happened! We must have put together the “steroids” of soil combination.

Our plants flourished in an extremely short amount of time and with our daily watering along with short morning plant pep talks (plant people talk to their plants haha), we’ve been able to harvest plenty of fruits and vegetables with many more on their way. The one plant that has definitely outperformed the rest is our crooked neck squash. Although, I could write a recipe for squash, which most people would appreciate, I thought I’d do something that people may overlook or not even realize they can eat, squash blossoms.

Squash blossoms are an amazing ingredient found more commonly in Italian, Greek and Mexican cuisine. You want to pick the blossoms when the flowers are nice and open, which is typically in the mornings. Also, you want to be sure to pick the male blossoms and leave the female blossoms behind so they can continue to grow fruit.  The male blossoms usually have a 2-3 inch stem which are very thin, while the females look like they are a little nub that is growing fruit. They’re not very difficult to tell apart. If you are not growing your own, you can purchase blossoms from some markets, but they only have a 2-3 day shelf life.

In this recipe you want to be very careful when washing and stuffing these blossoms as they are very delicate. Being careful in not tearing them apart will ensure the stuffing stays in when you fry them up. Also, feel free to experiment with spicier peppers to vary your spice levels, or leaving them out all completely if spice isn’t your cup of tea.

Servings: 2-3 as an appetizer

Cook Time: 30 mins

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Ingredients:

12 – 15             Squash Blossoms

2                      jalapeño, seeded, diced

3 cloves           Garlic, minced

8 oz                 ricotta cheese

4 oz                 goat cheese, crumble

2 tsp                salt

1tsp                 pepper

1/4 tsp             cumin

1 cup               flour

1.5 cups          sparkling water (or still water)

1 Tb                 salt

1 cup              Grape seed oil ( or any neutral frying oil)

Preparation:

  1. Rinse squash blossoms gently with cold running water. Be sure to check for bugs and dirt. Remove the stigma in the center of the flower using tweezers being careful not to tear the flower. Dry the flowers on a paper towel.
  2. In a small sauté pan over medium high heat add a little oil and the jalapeños. Sauté the jalapeño for 2-3 min. Add the minced garlic and continue to stir for 30 seconds or until the garlic is fragrant. Remove immediately and place into a bowl to cool down.
  3. Once the jalapeño and garlic are cooled, add in the ricotta, goat cheese, salt, pepper and cumin. Stir until combined.
  4. Fill the cheese mixture into a piping bag (if you don’t have a piping bag use a large Ziplock bag and fill it into one corner then cut the corner off) make sure your cut in the bag is large enough so the jalapeño pieces will fit through, but not much larger.
  5. Very gently open each flower and pipe about 1-2 teaspoons of the cheese mixture into the bottom of each flower leaving an inch or 2 at the top of the flower to close. Gently twist the top of the flower closed. It doesn’t have to seal too well; the mixture won’t pour out easily.
  6. Heat the remaining oil in a cast iron skillet or a heavy bottom pot to 375 degrees. There should be about a half inch of oil in the pan.
  7. Mix together the flour, sparking water and salt in a large mixing bowl. It should resemble a light pancake batter. If the batter is too thick add a little more water, lumps are ok.
  8. One by one gently batter each blossom and drop them directly into the hot oil. Do not over crowd the pan. Cook each blossom for about 1 min then flip then blossom over and continue to cook for 1-2 min until slightly brown and crispy. Set aside on a wire rack and continue with the rest of the blossoms until they are all finished.
  9. Finish them with a sprinkle of course salt over the top and enjoy them warm or at room temperature.

Ara Zada

Born and raised in Los Angeles Ara Zada is a chef, author, TV personality, food stylist and avid bow hunter. He has worked with Outdoor News, PBS, Food Network, ABC, CBS, NBC, TNT, Jaime Oliver Food Foundation and a range of others. His first cookbook ‘Lavash’ was released Oct. 2019. When he’s not cooking he’s shooting his bow, teaching his kids about the outdoors, training for triathlons and filling any available time with parkour.

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