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.
Squash blossoms are something that a lot of people are not familiar with. Most people have a fear of picking them for fear of loosing 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.
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.
In an Italian household, the talk of squash blossoms (fiori di zucca) is one with adoration, and yearning. Every summer in the months of late 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 mixed up the appetizers a bit and added in some sage leaves, which are also a popular appetizer in Italy and with Nicoletta’s family there. So here we are bringing you for a first plate Deep Fried Squash Blossoms and Sage Leaves.
It has been a strange year for us. Usually around this time of year the zucchini flowers are growing like crazy, but this year some things are early and some are late. This past Saturday we were at the City Center 104th street market here in Edmonton, strolling around the vendors picking up produce and products for our weekly menu plan. From the corner of my eye I saw this 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 singing, and told Nicoletta who was equally excited. We quickly looked around to see who had them and right behind us at Reclaim Urban Farm there 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 of our beautiful backyard oasis garden.
There are so many ways to prepare these beauties, whether on a pizza with some fior di latte (mozzarella), and feta, or tossed with zucchini, pesto and olive oil, for a nice pasta. Some really take zucchini flowers to way out levels, adding eggs in the batter and by stuffing them with mozzarella and anchovies, or ricotta and spinach, absolutely decadent. We, today, are keeping it traditional, as it was prepared in Nicoletta’s family for years, a simple and easy tempura batter, but still 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 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, 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 160° F. The depth of the oil would be enough so that the blossom 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. 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.
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 flower inside, moist, flavorful, sweet yet earthy profile finishes the appetizer on a high note. The sage leaves slightly spicy with that crispy coating. The flavor of the sage with its first hit of aromatics is like heaven, and that sweet yet light peppery taste 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 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 and with oil hot in a pan ready to create this wonderful appetizer of Deep Fried Squash Blossoms and Sage Leaves.
P.S. 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 flowers and sage leaves. They definitely took me to church!
Song of the Day: “Take me to Church” by Hosier. A truly talented musician that Nicoletta and I enjoy immensely.Print
- 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)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- some extra salt for dusting after cooking
- 1 liter of canola oil
Blossoms and sage leaves:
- 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 flowers and sage are very dry.
- In a large bowl whisk all purpose flour, cold beer (or ice cold sparkling water), salt, pepper, and dried thyme.
- While batter is resting, heat up some good quality canola oil or peanut oil to about 160° F. The depth of the oil would be enough so that the blossom 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!
When placing the battered flowers and sage leaves into the batter place them in away from you. This will prevent the hot oil from splashing towards you.
Make sure all the water is out from the center of the flower as it could leak out and start the oil popping.
Disclosure: All other links in our posts are NOT affiliate links. They are only about products or places we normally purchase and like.