Squash blossoms are the most amazing and enticing creations of nature. Both as an appetizer, on a pizza, or even mixed in a pasta. They are delicious, and beautiful, and will have you yearning for them all year long, till the summer when they come out.
Song of the Day: "Take me to Church" by Hosier.
Squash blossoms are something that a lot of people are not familiar with. Most people have a fear of picking them thinking they are going to loose some zucchini inventory. We are going to clear the air and educate you today on the ease of preparation, and the harvesting of these squash blossoms without loosing any of those juicy, so tasty, zucchini.
How to pick squash blossoms/zucchini flowers
You have to know that the flowers of these vegetables have sex: there are male flowers and female flowers: to maximize the production of zucchini, is advisable to take the male flowers (they are the ones growing on a thin stem), obviously not all, leaving some to pollinate the female flowers.
A must summer eats
In an Italian household, the talk of squash blossoms (fiori di zucca) is one with adoration, and yearning. Every summer in the months of July and August the frying pans are out and sizzling in the hot oil, these colorful tasty creations of the zucchini plant, squash blossoms! Everyone huddles around the kitchen in anticipation of the golden crisp moist centered delights coming out of the oil, onto a paper towel and dusted with salt. Hands grasping for these jewels and the quickest are the winners of the gold.
Today we added in some sage leaves to deep fry together with the squash blossoms. They are also a popular appetizer in Italy and with Nicoletta's family there. So here we are bringing you Deep Fried Squash Blossoms and Sage Leaves.
If you don't grow them, buy them at the farmers market
While strolling around our usual farmers market, from the corner of my eye, I saw a golden flash as if I had squash blossom radar and in someone's basket was a container filled with, yes, you guessed it right. I heard the heavens sing, and told Nicoletta who was equally excited. We quickly looked around and right behind us, at Reclaim Urban Farm, were just two containers left of the squash blossoms, one of which had our name on it. On the menu for lunch, fried squash blossoms and of course some lovely sage leaves that we have growing in our herb box.
Other uses for squash blossoms
There are so many ways to prepare these beauties. Try them on pizza with some fior di latte (mozzarella), and feta. Or, toss them with zucchini, pesto and olive oil, for a nice pasta. Also, alternate them in the layers of a lasagna bianca, amazing. We even put them on a puff pastry tart.
Some people add eggs in the batter, others stuff them with ricotta, or mozzarella and anchovies, absolutely decadent.
We, today, are keeping it traditional as it was prepared in Nicoletta's family for years: a simple and easy tempura batter, flavorful and delightful. It is beautiful to see Nicoletta's family with their passion and excitement for this traditional feast!
Squash blossoms prepared this way are really easy.
- Wash the sage leaves and the blossoms/flowers gently so not to break them, removing the pistils from the blossoms because of their slightly bitter taste. Make sure to dry them on a paper towel, the last thing you want is to flop the batter coated blossoms and leaves into the hot oil and have them explode in your face.
- Mix up some batter: a mixture of all purpose flour, ice cold beer (or ice cold sparkling water), salt, pepper, and we added a bit of dried thyme just to flavor it up a bit. The bubbles in either the beer or sparkling water make the batter airy and light.
- While batter is being prepared, heat up some good quality canola oil or peanut oil to about 180°C/350°F. The depth of the oil would be enough so that the blossoms can float and be turned over easily without hitting the bottom of the pan. Do not overcrowd the pan.
- Once they are nice and crispy and golden brown I take them out and onto a paper towel to get any excess oil off them. A quick dusting of salt and into my mouth they go, lol.
- The process is the same for the sage leaves. One thing to remember is to coat the blossoms and leaves well. Let the excess batter fall off then place them in the oil dropping them away from you. This will ensure not getting hit by any hot oil.
Light and crispy
This batter is amazing. You taste the yeast of the beer coming through that nice and crispy coating. The thyme just sneaking through, and those crushed sea salt crystals holding on to that batter are like flavor explosions happening in your mouth. The inside of the blossom, moist, flavorful, sweet yet earthy, finishes the appetizer on a high note. The sage leaves slightly spicy with that crispy coating. Their aromatic flavor, sweet and peppery, is delightful to the tongue. These appetizers didn't last long and even a neighbor Connie stopped by and had a taste. The look on her face said it all, YUM!
If you have never had squash blossoms or sage leaves, I believe you will become a fan and join the rest of us who wait patiently for them with oil hot in a pan ready to create this wonderful appetizer of Deep Fried Squash Blossoms and Sage Leaves.
We had a lovely lunch making it all finger foods, one way of eating that is a favorite of Nicoletta's and mine. A beautiful charcuterie board of cheese, meats, olives, nuts and crackers, a great accompaniment to the wonderfully crispy and flavorful blossoms/flowers and sage leaves. They definitely took me to church!
- 10 squash blossoms
- 10 sage leaves
- 4 tablespoons of all purpose flour
- 165 ml (half a bottle) of beer of your choice (we used Moretti)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon crushed black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme or other herbs, optional
- some extra salt for dusting after cooking
- 1 liter of canola/peanut/sanflower oil (our preference would be peanut oil because it has a high smoke point)
Blossoms and sage leaves:
- Gently wash squash blossoms taking out the pistil and drying on a paper towel.
- Wash sage leaves and place on paper towel also. Make sure both the blossoms and sage are very dry.
- In a large bowl whisk all purpose flour, salt, pepper, and dried herbs, if using. Add cold beer (or ice cold sparkling water) a little at a time, whisking with a fork to incorporate until smooth and a consistency that is not too thick that it doesn't come off the fork and not too thin where it just quickly runs out.
- While batter is resting, heat up some good quality canola oil or peanut oil to about 180°C/350°F. The depth of the oil would be enough so that the blossoms can float and be turned over easily without hitting the bottom of the pan.
- Once they are nice and crispy and golden brown I take them out and onto a paper towel to get any excess oil off them.
- Finish with a quick dusting of salt.
- Now ready to eat. Enjoy!
Squash blossoms/zucchini flowers do not last long after they are picked. Keep them in the fridge in a closed air tight container and use in a couple of days.
When placing the battered blossoms (flowers) and sage leaves into the oil, place them in away from you slowly. This will prevent the hot oil from splashing towards you.
Do not overcrowd the pan.
Make sure all the water is out from the center of the blossom as it could leak out and start the oil popping.
- Category: Appetizer
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: summer, blossoms, appetizer, italian, deep fried, tempura, flour, beer