FRIED SQUASH BLOSSOMS with RICOTTA & SALSA VERDE

Squash blossoms. How precious.

Squash blossoms stuffed with cheese and aromatics, then fried. Humans really are superior.

Of course, they’re a fixture on the culinary zeitgeist. You’ll see Mario Batali fondling them and Martha Stewart pronouncing in her hushed, knowing manner, “It’s a good thing.” On the pages of Kinfolk, you’ll see a girl with chestnut-colored hair tied in a bun holding a basket of squash blossoms next to a man with a 19th century beard distraught over their beauty.

The thing is, they taste as good as anything does after being stuffed with cheese and deep-fried, like the jalapeno poppers at Applebee’s minus the baggage. I have to say though – this is just one of those dishes that brings disproportionate pleasure to the chef versus the diner. Imagine it: Nestling these brilliantly colored, delicate flowers in the palm of your hand. Peeling away their furled petals with your fingertips to create an opening. Gently inserting a pillow of ricotta. Twisting the flower closed, hoping they comply. Dipping these buds in a veneer of batter, then bathing them for a hot minute. These steps teach us: Take pleasure in the process.

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FRIED SQUASH BLOSSOMS with RICOTTA & SALSA VERDE

for the squash blossom, adapted from Gourmet:
1 cup whole milk ricotta
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup finely chopped mint
1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano
freshly cracked black pepper to taste
12-16 large squash blossoms (*I also used fresh baby corn)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 cup ice cold seltzer or club soda
about 3 cups of canola oil for frying

for the salsa verde, adapted from Michael Chiarello:
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 cups packed flat leaf parsley leaves
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6-7 cornichons
2-3 anchovy fillets (optional)
1 tablespoon capers (optional)
fine sea salt and dry crushed red pepper to taste

Combine all the salsa verde ingredients in a blender or food processor and set aside. Combine the ricotta, egg yolk, mint, Parmigiano and black pepper. Gently open the blossoms with your fingers and fill with about 1-2 teaspoons of the ricotta mixture, twisting the tip of the blossom to close. Whisk together the flour, salt, and seltzer in a bowl. Heat the oil in a skillet or pot with a high rim (for safety) on medium-high flame until 375 F. Thinly coat the blossoms in the batter and fry, turning once, for about 1-2 minutes until golden. Transfer to a platter lined with paper towels and finish frying the blossoms. Serve immediately with salsa verde.

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