My New Obsession: Stuffed Squash Blossoms

I knew I had a problem when I ordered them again for dessert: stuffed squash blossoms at Bacaro in the Lower East Side of NYC. Think high class mozzarella sticks, minus the freezerburn. Hot, melty ricotta cheese just barely contained by the delicate leaves of a flower that was kissed by a frying pan. But at $12 a pop, it was quite an expensive habit. And this was my second trip. I had to learn to make them myself. When I stumbled across the blossoms at the Union Square Green Market, I knew it was time. Below is my take:

Stuffed Squash Blossoms
A dozen blossoms
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1/4 cup fresh herbs, chopped (I used chives and parsley)
1tsp honey
1/4 tsp lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of flour
1 cup milk
vegtable oil for frying

To prepare the cheese filling: combine ricotta cheese with fresh herbs, honey, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste. To taste being the important part: make sure you like your filling enough on its own, as that is where the majority of the flavor comes from. Feel free to experiment with filling choices: add goat or feta cheese, try different herb combinations. I will!

To wash and prepare the squash blossoms: I found the easiest way to clean and fill the blossoms is to slit one side of the blossoms with a paring knife, that way you can remove the stamen inside (the yellow phalic part inside the bloom) and gently soak away any dirt.

To fill the blossoms I used a teaspoon to spoon in the cheese filling, however an even easier method is to use a pastry filler to squeeze the cheese in accurately. Once filled, draw the blossoms together and gently twist them together at the top and secure with a toothpick.

Once all the blossoms are filled, I placed them in the freezer for a few hours to firm up and prevent the ricotta cheese from oozing out. This is optional, but I found them easier to fry this way.

Set up your fry station: Coat the bottom of your fry pan with a half inch or so of oil and bring to high heat. Pour milk and flour into two separate bowls. Have a drying rack ready for fried blossoms to drain. A paper towel on plate will suffice.

Dip your blossom into the milk (or a few beaten eggs will work as glue for the flour too). Lightly coat in flour. I chose to do this twice to sufficiently coat the blossoms, but it is entirely up to you. Place in the frying pan for about 2 minutes a side or until lightly golden on each side and place aside to drain. Can be served immediately.

Note: unfried blossoms can be frozen for a later date. A nice treat when they're out of season!

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