Late summer is the time of year when crops of summer squash go wild. Now, don’t get us wrong, we love courgettes, zucchinis, or whatever you want to call them, as much as the next person, but the best part of the summer squash? The flower blossom.
They don’t keep long, which means that squash blossoms – known in Italy as fiori di zucca – are routinely discarded before the squash themselves are packed up for distribution to supermarkets. And that’s a shame, because fried fiori di zucca are truly one of life’s great pleasures – especially when stuffed with ricotta. And to think, most people don’t even know they exist.
So if you’ve got a decent farmer’s market near you, grow your own summer squash in the garden, or have some other access to squash that’s fresh enough to include the flowers still, then do we have a treat for you: eight sublime variants on an Italian favourite – ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms.
Ricotta-stuffed Squash Blossoms
It would be silly not to open with the classic. Bon Appetit offers their take on the quintessential ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms here. It’s certainly the place to start if you’ve never cooked with squash blossoms before, although they prefer to mix the ricotta stuffing with mozzarella for a more satisfying chew. You can also switch out the chives for other herbs if you prefer, although if you’re not a confident chef, you’ll be best off sticking with ones common in Italian cooking.
Oven-Roasted Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Bacon, Mushroom & Ricotta
Another non-fry option comes courtesy of White on Rice Couple’s recipe for bacon, mushroom and ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms. Just note that there’s a trade-off at work here. Those with decadent taste-buds will love the addition of bacon and mushroom for their strong flavours, but these stuffed squash blossoms come un-battered and un-breaded. For some people, that might be missing the point. For others, this might just be the squash blossom recipe they’ve been looking for.
Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Ricotta and Spinach
Of course, spinach and ricotta is about as classic a flavour combo as they come, so it was only a matter of time before we inevitably pointed you towards this spinach and ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms recipe from La Cucina Italiana. Interestingly, these ones contain a little chilli pepper and are served with a simple sweet currant sauce. For those looking to expand their culinary horizons, following this recipe is a great lesson in perfecting flavour combinations and doing a lot with just a few quality ingredients. In other words, it’s a great way to learn Italian (cooking, that is).
Stuffed Squash Blossoms Mexican Style
Stuffed squash blossoms are also a beloved appetiser in Mexico. This Mexican-style stuffed squash blossoms recipe from Mexico in my Kitchen doesn’t differ greatly from the Italian style, even maintaining the ricotta stuffing. Unsurprisingly, however, it kicks up the spice just a notch with the addition of serrano pepper and onion, and also adds a little beer to the batter. Of course, you’ll also want to serve them with lashings of your favourite Mexican hot sauce.
Panko-crusted Baked Squash Blossoms with Garden Herb Ricotta
If you’re all about the breadcrumbs in the recipes above and still haven’t gotten to know panko, it’s time. Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb which mixes a little oil in with the crumbs. That means they clump together, forming chunky, crunchier crumbs. Kellie at Food to Glow shows you here how to use them with baked squash blossoms, and she also ramps up the herb content. That’s fantastic news if you happen to grow your own, or just can’t get enough of fresh and zesty flavours.
Crab and Ricotta-stuffed Squash Blossoms with Lemon Truffle Vinaigrette
OK, so now we’re getting a little fancy as we approach the end of our list. We’re lovers of fine dining after all.
If you’ve got money to spend and someone special to impress, then this recipe for crab and ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms with a lemon truffle vinaigrette, courtesy of Beyond Sweet and Savory, is exactly where you need to be heading. It offers a Vietnamese perspective on an Italian classic, with a delicate filling that, in this instance, must be baked (it’ll fall to bits if you try to fry it). Bear in mind that it’s another un-breaded squash blossom recipe, but you won’t miss the batter. This is a very different take on the recipes above and you shouldn’t judge the classic fiori di zucca based solely off the back of it. However, with that said, they’re definitely worth trying at least once in your life.