There's a lot about this recipe that's delicious. Topping the list is the batter itself. It is light, dappled with air pockets, and super tasty, with a slightly heady beer flavor. But most of all, it's all about the filling.
Typically you see squash blossoms stuffed only with fresh ricotta, but these have an ever-vital addition of both mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano. There's something so great about the combination of a super melty, stringy cheese like mozzarella. It's a texturally compelling filling, with that creamy, unctuous heft of the ricotta, plus the gooey strings of mozzarella. And the parm adds a great hit of salt. Three cheeses have never been more necessary.
Imagine a white pizza, with that ethereal union of fresh ricotta and mozzarella. Such a good marriage. Now, add parm. When all melted together, it's pretty safe to say that tastiness has been brought to a new level. Enough said.
Well, one more thing. Before starting, keep in mind this trick for filling the blossoms: Hold the base of a blossom in one hand, and in the other, hold your piping bag or plastic bag filled with the cheese mixture. Blow into the center of the blossom. This'll open it up so that you can neatly stick your bag of filling into the middle. You may need to continue blowing as you fill the blossom to capacity.
The sizes of blossoms vary, but you can typically fit a couple of tablespoons worth of cheese mixture into each one. Be generous, but don't overfill. If the blossoms start to split, fear not. The batter is pretty thick and will do a good job of ensuring that the cheese won't leech out, but try to stop filling before the seams of the blossoms tear too much. Blossoms can be filled and held in the refrigerator, loosely covered, until ready to fry.
Three Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms
3/4 cup fresh ricotta
1/2 cup coarsely grated fresh mozzarella
3 tablespoons finely grated parmigiano reggiano
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
1/4 cup fine cornmeal
3/4 - 1 cup beer (a summer ale works nicely)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, for garnish
Maldon or other flaky sea salt, for garnish
Make filling and stuff blossoms: In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, egg yolk, 1 tablespoon flour, nutmeg, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir to combine and taste and adjust seasoning. Transfer filling to a pastry bag or resealable plastic bag, and snip a 1/2 inch off of the base of the bag to create an opening.
Blow into the center of each blossom to create an air pocket and to help you fill neatly. Place the end of your piping bag or plastic bag into the center and squeeze bag to fill. Fill each squash blossom with approximately two tablespoons of the cheese filling. Pinch ends of blossom to lightly seal. Set filled blossoms aside.
Make batter and fry the blossoms: Heat 1-1/2 inches of oil in a deep, heavy bottomed cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until it reaches 375°F on a candy thermometer.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine remaining 1 cup flour, cornmeal, and 1 teaspoon salt. Gradually add beer, whisking, until batter is smooth. Start with 3/4 cup of beer, and if necessary, add more beer a tablespoon at a time until you reach the consistency of a thick pancake batter.
Test the oil and the batter by dropping a spoonful into the hot oil. If it puffs immediately and starts turning lightly golden within 20 seconds, you're ready to start frying. Taste your tester piece and add more salt to the batter if you like.
Dip each squash blossom into the batter, and immediately and carefully place into the oil. Repeat with remaining blossoms and fry, turning once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Fry in batches if necessary so as not to overcrowd the pan. Maintain heat of oil by increasing or lowering heat between batches.
Remove blossoms to a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves and maldon salt. Zest some of the lemon rind over top and finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Serve immediately.
Nora Singley used to be a cheesemonger and the Director of Education at Murray's Cheese Shop. Until recently she was a TV Chef on The Martha Stewart Show. She is currently a freelance food stylist and private chef in New York City.
Related: Five Ways to Eat Squash Blossoms
(Images: Nora Singley)