Along with the arrival of summer squashes this season are their dainty, edible flowers. The bright orange blossoms sold at farmers' and specialty markets are generally from zucchini plants, though the flowers of other summer squashes may be eaten, as well. The blossoms are often served fried – a dish we will never turn down, but there are several other ways to fully enjoy the beautiful color and delicate texture and flavor of this summer ingredient.
Fried: From Mexico to Italy, frying is one of the most popular ways to prepare squash blossoms. Simply batter and fry them or stuff them first. Cheeses (ricotta, fresh mozzarella, goat cheese) and herbs (basil, thyme, parsley) make good fillings. Try adding lemon zest to the cheese or season the crispy fried blossoms with a squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkling of coarse salt.
• Recipe inspiration: Fried Squash Blossoms, from The Kitchn
Baked: If deep frying turns you off, or you just want to try something different, you could stuff the blossoms with cheese – savory or sweet – and then bake them in the oven. Steaming is another healthy option.
• Recipe inspiration: Waldy Malouf's Baked Squash Blossoms with Ricotta and Honey, from New York magazine
Pasta: We sometimes gently tear or make a chiffonade of squash blossoms to serve over pasta, risotto, or salad. The blossoms can also be cooked into a pasta sauce. This is one of our favorite recipes.
• Recipe inspiration: Pappardelle with Zucchini Blossom Sauce, from Orangette
Quesadilla: Squash blossoms are abundant in Mexico, where they are known as flores de calabaza. There's something very satisfying about the combination of the mildly sweet, squash-y blossoms with creamy cheese.
• Recipe inspiration: Squash Blossom Quesadillas, from Homesick Texan
Soup: How about a fresh, summery soup with squash blossoms, zucchini, and corn?
• Recipe inspiration: Golden Squash Blossom Crema, from Rick Bayless
Any other ideas? Share them in the comments!
(Images: Emily Ho, Kathryn Hill)