These are delicious alone as an appetizer, folded into pasta dishes or placed atop a pizza. Italians like to coat the blossoms, stuffed or not, with a simple batter and fry them in olive oil, then salt them, squeeze on a bit of lemon juice and serve.
Squash blossoms: gather as many you like from whatever sort of squash you have. I primarily pick male flowers but do take female flowers to keep the zucchini in check. I usually count on two per person. Blossoms are at their best on a dry day just after the sun has had a chance to dry them off, but they are fragile, so be careful with them. If you pick them later in the day, they might well be closed (and hosting bee parties), so be sure to check them for insects. I store them in the fridge, lightly covered with a paper towel.
Olive oil for the sauté pan.
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2-3 teaspoons fresh ricotta (if you can get it super fresh and cloud-like—I am learning how to make my own. In the meantime I buy it by the scoop at Costello’s in Middlebury.) or soft goat cheese per blossom.
One-half to one teaspoon mixed chopped fresh herbs per blossom
I like to make basil and mint the assertive flavors with a hint of lemon thyme and parsley to back them up, but you can use any combination or single herbs.
A pinch of lemon zest threads (to taste—I tend to be generous here, zesting half a lemon for a batch of eight.)
Fresh lemon juice
One-half teaspoon freshly grated parmesan cheese per blossom (optional)
One egg yolk per eight blossoms
(Optional—if your ricotta or goat cheese is a bit dense, whipping an egg yolk into it will lighten its consistency while adding richness.)
1. Gently clean the blossoms of dirt and insects and set aside. I do not trim stems or remove stamens though some people think they are a bit bitter and do take the time to pluck them.
2. With a fork, whip the ricotta (and optional yolk) with the herbs, lemon zest, optional cheese and salt to taste. A lovely option is to add 2 tablespoons of lavender honey to the full mixture.
3. Carefully open the blossoms and slip stuffing in, teaspoon by teaspoon (most will take around 2 teaspoons). Some cooks like to use a pastry bag and pipe it in. I find a small, long-handled demitasse spoon works well. Gently twist the end of the blossom shut. Don’t worry if a bit of stuffing escapes if the flower splits a little—it will flavor the sauté pan.
4. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat and with a spatula, place the blossoms in side by side and brown them lightly on each side (a couple of minutes per side). Remove from pan, squeeze a bit of lemon and a tiny bit of sea salt over them and serve right away. When I am using them on pizza, I skip this step and place the uncooked blossoms on the pizza before it cooks. With pasta dishes, I will cook them before folding then ever-so-carefully into the rest of the topping ingredients.