One of the best parts about having our own gardens is that we can go out almost every day and pluck something beautiful or delicious—and sometimes both. Case in point: the squash blossom, that gorgeously golden and often-underused bit of the yellow squash and zucchini plants that makes for one awesomely tasty and simple summer treat.
Ready? Set? Get cooking . . .
Squash Flower Cakes
This recipe comes courtesy of Kathleen Catalano, retired nutritionist and chef, mother of our blog editor, Robin, and one of the best cooks we know (we’re only slightly biased). It’s based on an age-old rustic Italian recipe that’s been handed down in the family for umpty-thousand generations, and instead of stuffing or smothering the flowers with cheese, it allows their delicate flavor—accompanied by a satisfying crispness—to shine through. Harvest the flowers early in the morning, when they’re in full bloom, for best results (and fewer insect stowaways).
7–8 squash flowers
Canola oil for frying
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ½ tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
Black pepper to taste
Fresh basil, chopped, for garnish
1. Remove the stalk and the small green spikes from around the base of the flower, but keep the bottom bulb intact. Wash the flowers by gently swishing them in a bowl of cold water to remove any dirt or bugs. Place them on a paper towel–lined rack or plate to dry.
2. Heat the canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Mix together all the other ingredients, except the fresh basil; taste and add more spices, if needed. The mixture should be slightly thicker than pancake batter; add more milk as needed to achieve this consistency.
3. When the oil is hot enough to make a droplet of water sizzle, pick up each flower by its bulb and gently dredge it in the batter, covering it as completely as possible. Place a few flowers at a time in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip over and brown on the other side.
4. Drain the browned flower cakes on a paper-towel lined plate, and garnish with fresh basil, if desired. Serve warm.