Saturday, September 5, 2009
Squash blossoms For Dinner
A few days ago we tried something new - squash blossoms for dinner! It has been a dream of mine to create an edible landscape. One in which most of the plants are not only good looking, but good for something - either producing edible fruit or leaves, or useful as a medicinal herb, or for tea. Most people are familiar with rosemary and thyme, but did you know that the flowers of nasturtiums, daylilies, borage, and all kinds of squashes are edible?
Well since we are planting an edible landscape we had to be brave and eat some flowers. (You already eat one flower even if you didn't realize it - yes broccoli!) Not my daylilies since they are too pretty, but we had plenty of squash blossoms out back. Squash vines have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. You can tell them apart by their stems. A male flower has a long stem, a female flower has a very short stem and has a round bulb at the base of the flower which is the immature fruit. Since there are many more male flowers on the vine then female, you can sacrifice a few of the male flowers for dinner without reducing the chance that your female flowers will be pollinated.
Squash flowers open for only one day, in the morning, and are usually closed by noon. Take a glass of water and a pair of scissors out into the garden in the late morning - after the bees have finished with your flowers, but before they have closed up. Look for the male flowers with the long stems and check inside for any bugs hanging out. Beetles and such like to hang out in the flowers, and since you dont want to take them inside or eat them, evict them now. Cut your flowers with the long stem intact and put them in your glass of water. Your flowers will keep for one day so use them up for dinner or breakfast.
When your are ready to use your flowers (which will probably close up within a few hours of cutting) the preparation is simple. Cut off the base of the flower where the stem is attached and the anther part (that holds the pollen) will fall out. This part doesn't taste good. You will only be eating the petals.
Squash flowers are used mostly in Italian and Mexican cooking. Most of the recipes I found for them involving stuffing the closed blossoms with an herb and cheese mixture, dipping them in flour or batter, then frying them. They are also used in both Mexican and Italian soups, and chopped up in Mexican quesadillas, or you could chop them and add them to a salad.
The way we ate ours was to add them to the pan we had cooked our ribs in and let the moisture of the blossoms (they are mostly water) deglaze the pan. We served them over the meat. Twelve blossoms reduced in size to a couple of tablespoons, so stuffing them and frying them might give you a little more to bite into.
I'll be giving you more info on edible landscaping as we try new things. We had a blast eating our flowers for dinner and trying something new.