Pictured Recipe: Fried Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Tomme des Pyrénées
Whether cooking up a healthy Summer Squash Pad Thai or making these Zucchini Fritters with Dill Yogurt, I can't get enough summer squash these days. When you buy zucchini and other summer squash from the farmers' market, you may have noticed your vendor selling little blossoms as well. If you're anything like me, you inquisitively eye the flowers before slowly walking away with just your summer squash in hand. Determined to actually cook with the blossoms, I talked to EatingWell magazine's senior food editor, Devon O'Brien, to get the lowdown on these beautiful flowers called squash blossoms.
What Are Squash Blossoms?
Squash blossoms are edible flowers from a squash plant. Distinguished by their bright yellow color, the blossoms are in peak season during summertime, making them the perfect addition to any dish for a pop of vibrant color. As far as taste and texture go, they're exactly would you would expect: "Floral and tender! Not a ton of flavor, but they are beautiful and add a nice pop of color to whatever you're making," says O'Brien.
Pictured Recipe: Squash Blossom & Corn Tacos
How to Cook with Squash Blossoms
As for how to prepare the blossoms, "Obviously stuffing them with cheese, battering them and frying is the most delicious way!" says O'Brien. "But for an easier (and sometimes healthier) use, I like to sauté them for taco filling (pictured above)." In addition to frying and sautéing, you can also bake squash blossoms. Add them to salads, serve them as a side or use them as a garnish to give a fine-dining feeling to any dish.
Although they're versatile, there are some things to be cognizant of when it comes to the squash flowers. First things first, they're extremely fragile. "When stuffing them, you have to be really careful to not rip them open," says O'Brien. "But don't stress! As long as the filling is creamy, you can kind of 'glue' them back together the patch the holes."
Related: Healthy Stuffed Vegetable Recipes
Pictured Recipe: Grilled Hanger Steak with Stuffed Squash Blossoms & Crispy Onions
How to Harvest & Shop for Squash Blossoms
Another thing to keep in mind: there are two different types of squash blossoms—male and female. Even though you can eat both of them, this is important to consider if you have a home garden. "Only female blossoms will turn into squash," says O'Brien. "After the males have opened—the females need the male pollen to turn into fruit—you can go ahead and pick them and eat them!" In order to distinguish between the two, look for the stamen in the middle of male squash blossom. Pro tip: If you know you won't be able to eat all of the squash in your garden and find yourself needing more blossoms in the kitchen, you can go ahead and pick some of the female blossoms as well!
When shopping for squash blossoms at the grocery store or farmers' market, look for fresh blossoms with no bruising or wilting and use them soon after you buy them. If you can't use the blossoms the day you buy them, wrap them loosely in paper towels and store in the refrigerator.
Related: How to Start a Vegetable Garden