The best part of being obsessed with creating and trying new foods, is that there is so many different kinds of food and variations of each, that I could spend my whole and barely crack the surface!
This week at the local Farmer’s Market, my boss, Diane, picked up a bunch of beautiful, delicate squash blossoms. For decoration? No, to cook and eat!
She was planning to make something beautiful and delicious out of them, but unfortunately was swept up by time and never got the chance. But they didn’t go to waste! She gifted me the blossoms and I realized, I had to make something pretty incredible. The problem was, I had absolutely no idea what to do with these little edible flowers!
When I came home with them my roommate, Annie, easily recognized the blossoms from an old Italian dish her grandmother used to make – batter fried squash blossoms. I was very hesitant to fry them and argued with myself over making these into a traditional Italian dish from Annie’s past or re-creating them into a healthier dish that would in fact represent The Food Evolution as well. Healthy wins again!
I went to Pinterest to answer the rest of my questions – stuff them, saute them, top a flat bread crust? It seemed as though the classic technique was to stuff them, and as a squash blossom novice I was happy to start stuffing. There were dozens of recipes for squash blossoms stuffed with dozen of different cheeses: burrata, goat cheese, ricotta, etc. Although I do enjoy my share of cheese now and then ( I actually love it) I figured I would honor The Food Evolution and Diane and test my boundaries with a dairy-free rendition of a stuffed squash blossom – baked, not fried. Check out the recipe below!
Pignoli Formaggio Stuffed Squash Blossoms – Pine Nut Cheese adapted from Green Shakes and Giggles
12 Squash Blossoms
1 Cup Pine Nuts, soaked up to 2 hours (30 minutes worked fine for me)
1 Garlic Clove
2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice (I was out of lemons…)
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
4 Sage Leaves, chopped
1/4 Cup Water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a food processor, blend together all ingredients for the cheese except the water. Add the water in slowly while blending.
Gently slit one side of the squash blossoms and peel open slightly. Remove the stamen from the inside. Pipe or spoon the pignoli cheese into each flower and fold closed, twisting the end. Line the blossoms on a parchment lined (I used foil) baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Allow them to cook for 10 minutes. An extra 5 minutes at 425 degrees really pays off for an added crisp. Eat and enjoy!
I also made use of all elements of the blossoms as this batch had little bulbs at the end of the flower. I sliced them up and pan seared them to go with the dish. As you’ll see, the picture looks like a great brown sear, but I’ll be honest…I burned the bottom. Oh well, still very tasty! My advice is to sear for just a few minutes on each side, they clearly burn easily.