Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fried Squash Blossoms with Basil Ricotta Filling

Finally, I had them; soft, delicate and ready to eat, my first squash blossoms.  Now, I usually like to try food before I attempt to make it but this, I knew, was going to be a success. I used the basis of a recipe I found in Epicurious, I tweaked it a little by substituting basil for the mint. I didn’t have a deep fry thermometer so I had to use my instincts, which taught me a very valuable lesson.

When frying anything, make sure your oil is hot enough. If you don’t have a thermometer sprinkle some of your batter in the heated oil and watch closely how it reacts. If the desired consistency appears within a few seconds, your oil is hot enough. If you’re too eager, like me, and put the blossoms in too soon than the oil is absorbed into the batter rather than cooking the outside of the blossom and developing a crispy outside layer.

Looking at this recipe, I was surprised to see that it called for seltzer/club soda instead of milk or water for the batter. When frying, I found out why. Using carbonated water encourages the batter to separate and become lighter and fluffier. With such a delicate vegetable, this is a desirable consistency rather than the greasy batter used in fish and chips. When frying the blossoms, you can see bubbles in the batter forming which creates a lighter, crispier coating.

Another thing I used to save time and prevent a messy situation is a piping bag to fill the blossoms with the ricotta filling. When I pictured myself trying to gently spoon the filling into the blossoms, I could foresee a lot of cussing, ripped blossoms and a big mess. If you have a piping bag, this is an opportune time to get reacquainted with it.

I sincerely hope this recipe encourages you to try something new next time you run across it, you never know when you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Happy experimenting!

Fried Squash Blossoms with Basil Ricotta Filling

1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta (preferably fresh)
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup finely chopped basil
2/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
6 large zucchini squash blossoms
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chilled seltzer or club soda
About 1 cup vegetable oil for frying

Deep-fry thermometer
Piping bag

Stir together ricotta, yolk, basil, 1/3 cup parmesan, and 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
Carefully open each blossom and pipe in ricotta filling, gently twisting end of blossom to enclose filling. (You may have filling left over.)

Whisk together flour, remaining 1/3 cup parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and seltzer in a small bowl.
Heat 1/2 inch oil to 375°F in a 10-inch heavy skillet. Meanwhile, dip half of blossoms in batter to thinly coat. Fry coated blossoms, turning once, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes total. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain. Coat and fry remaining blossoms. (Return oil to 375°F between batches.) Season with salt.

** If you’re inspired by this recipe and would like to try squash blossoms, check out Chef Jose Andres’s restaurant, Oyamel, in DC for his Squash Blossom Festival going on from August 1st through August 14th.

1 comment:

  1. The whole family fell in love with fried zucchini blossoms last year after my parents garden started producing like crazy! We used the same seltzer mix to dip them in and used all sorts of stuffings - bleu cheese, ricotta, mozzarella...the possibilities are endless and all delicious!