Stuffed zucchini blossoms with mozzarella, basil, and cornmeal
I’m in Europe right now. Well, let’s hope to god that I’m in Europe right now, since due to internet magic I’m writing this before I go but it should be posting while I’m there, and I definitely should be there.
Let’s let that sink in for a minute. (The me being in Europe thing – I’m pretty sure we’re all way used to internet magic by now.)
Now that we’re all over the excitement of me being in Europe, lounging in heurigen and eating my weight in saurkraut on a daily basis, let’s move on to squash blossoms.
Remember when we were kids and one of the hardest decisions we ever had to make was which color-flavor beverage we wanted? I always preferred the red flavor to the green or purple flavor (and god forbid I even think about the blue flavor). And it took me years before I connected those colors with a flavor profile that was supposed to resemble something even close to a specific fruit, and sometimes that flavor-color thing still messes me up a little. I tell you all of this because just now when I was thinking how I might explain the flavor of a squash blossom, all I could think of was “pale yellow-green.” The sort of pale, springy green that you see peeking around the edges of the world on the cusp of spring, when the air is crisp and refreshing and everything smells a little bit vegetal and floral, like freshly cut grass.
That’s kind of how squash blossoms taste. It’s similar to the flavor of loroco buds in pupusas, or like the subtle, springy flavor imparted by twisting a lemon peel and dunking it into your glass of water (or your glass of ice cold gin, let’s be honest).
I’ve had stuffed squash blossoms only a handful of times and have made them only twice now, but this second time I think I’m really on to something. The first time I went the more traditional way – stuffed with seasoned ricotta, dunked in a batter – and it was good, but a bit of a hassle (stuffing a soft cheese into a delicate, tissue-thin flower isn’t exactly the easiest thing that one could do with their time).
So this time I went with a different strategy – one that can be written as more of a directive sentence than a detailed recipe – with a far better ratio of satisfaction:hassle.
So here it is: stuff blossoms with mozzarella and basil, roll in egg, then cornmeal, and pan fry.
But since I like you, I’ll give you a little more than that. And I’ll tell you why these are so good. I personally enjoyed the melty, gooey mozzarella in the middle more than a warm ricotta filling, not only because it was infinitely easier to fill the blossoms but also because I don’t think the subtle flavor of ricotta holds up to fried exterior as well as the richness of the mozzarella and basil. And the fried cornmeal lends an extra crispy/crunchiness that makes the entire little packet a little less fragile (easier to take out of the pan, easier to serve, easier to eat), and a little more fun to eat. The whole process is a bit quicker, and the result a bit more interesting.
Squash blossoms with mozzarella, basil, and cornmeal
As a small side, snack, or appetizer, you probably want 2-4 blossoms per person
- 2-4 squash blossoms per person, checked for insects, rinsed if necessary, inner pistols removed, and any tough leaves or stems removed.
- Mozzarella, fresh if possible (but not necessary) – about 1 Tbsp. per blossom, chopped into small bits
- Basil – 1/2 leaf or so per blossom, minced
- 1 egg, slightly beaten (this should last you for at least 20 blossoms)
- 1/4 cup cornmeal, plus more if necessary
- Canola oil
– Coat the bottom of a skillet with about 1/4-1/2″ canola oil and heat to medium high.
– Mix together the mozzarella and basil and stuff into the squash blossoms. It’s okay if the blossom rips, and you can twist the top of the petals/leaves together to keep things a little more intact.
– Roll each stuffed blossom in egg and then cornmeal, and place in the hot oil.
– Fry each blossom until golden brown and crispy on each side, turning as necessary (most of mine ended up sort of triangular with three sides, so you may need to fry on more than two sides).
– Drain on paper towels until ready to eat. Sprinkle with salt and/or pepper if desired (I’d also be interested in trying other spices, like cumin or curry powder).