Market Stuffed Squash Blossoms.
One of my favorite aspects of summer is our local farmer's markets. I literally get giddy Friday evening thinking of what I might find the next morning. This week I had the luxury of sneaking out of the house before the kids woke up! Off I went, TOTALLY ALONE, to pursue the market.
The crisp morning air swept across my face as I sauntered toward my goal. Gentle sunlight gleamed down on the white tent tops like a soft kiss. The colorful silhouettes and aromas were a feast for the senses. A perfect mingling of purpose and pleasure. There truly is not another errand I'd rather run!
It's amazing how you can walk into an almost empty market and 45 minutes later wriggle your way out of a horde of bodies hovering over tables and waving their cash! All are light-hearted and relaxed, no doubt, but still a swarming mass of people! It's always best to get there right before it opens. The first to arrive get the best of everything. You snooze, you lose...literally!
Saturday morning I often bump into neighbors and friends. We exchange vendor tips, and a look of regard saved for those "in the know" on the farm-stand scene. It's a scene, all right! You really get a sense of who's running the show in your town's local food movement.
A good friend once asked me, "What's so great about the farmer's market? It's just vegetables." "Everything!" I emphatically told her. It's true! The produce is picked at dawn on the day of market, so it's ultra fresh (meaning richer in nutrients and it lasts longer). Almost everything is organic, and if it's not, you can ask the grower every detail about their product. You actually get to know the farmers you are buying from! Other than veggies, there's fresh local meat and seafood, local dairy and eggs, fruit, homemade baked goods, fresh pasta, soaps and "green cleaners", candles, potted plants, homemade blankets and pillows... Many of these items are hard-to-find in stores. Last week I found local goat fudge! It was unbelievable! Plus you are supporting families in your own community! Most cities have an online listing of their farmer's market. Here's ours, Asheville Farmer's Markets.
The ability to get your hands on items not sold in stores, ALIGHTS CREATIVITY! I came home this Saturday and cooked a marvelous breakfast, then set in on lunch. I found huge squash blossoms for 25 cents each! I don't know about you, but a good deal gives me the shakes!
The most common preparation for squash blossoms is stuffing them. You can fill them with any flavorful concoction you choose, then simply twist the petals together and pan fry them! I like to dip them first in a thin, tempura-like batter, to keep all the filling from working its way out. This week I also found garlic scapes. They sound (and look) odd, but are actually just the stalks of the garlic bulb. Scapes have a milder garlic flavor and can be chopped up like a scallion. I decided to throw them in the filling, along with local goat cheese, and some of my enormous basil leaves. I served the squash blossoms over a salad of endive-frisee, arugula, and basil leaves, lightly dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. The result was divine! My husband said it might even be his favorite thing to eat--which is saying a lot, because it was a meat-free meal for a mid-western man!
Squash blossoms are VERY perishable and usually won't make it more then 24 hours. If you buy them with a baby squash attached, they last a little longer. I usually come home and immediately put them in a shallow dish of water, keeping all the petals above the waterline. Then I plan to cook them either for lunch or dinner of the same day.
Your local farmer's market is a true culinary adventure, and not to be missed!
Market Stuffed Squash Blossoms
8-10 squash blossoms
4 garlic-scapes, chopped (could substitute garlic or scallions)
2 Tb. chopped dried cherries
1 Tb. unsalted butter
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
½ cup soft goat cheese
2 Tb. chopped fresh basil
Salt and Pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. white pepper
½ tsp. curry powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup seltzer or club soda
Oil for frying
Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add a pat of butter, chopped scapes and chopped cherries. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
Add the panko and stir for 1-2 minutes until the panko has toasted. Turn the heat off and stir in the goat cheese and basil. Salt and Pepper to taste.
Spoon the filling into the squash blossoms and gently twist the petals together to seal.
Wipe out the skillet with a damp paper towel. Then pour in enough oil to thoroughly coat the bottom of the skillet. Return the heat to medium-high. Mix the flour, white pepper, curry and salt in a small bowl. Whisk in the club soda.
Dip each blossom in the batter. Shake off the drippings and carefully place in the hot oil.
Pan-fry for 1-2 minutes per side. I usually turn mine 2-3 times. Remove from the pan the drain on a paper towel. Repeat if needed.
Serve alone as an appetizer, with aioli, or over a salad as a light meal.