For the past several weeks, we’ve picked up a small bag of squash blossoms as part of our weekly CSA share. Each bag has about eight blossoms, so it’s not as if there are enough to make squash blossom soup or anything very elaborate. Most times we just make up a batch of squash blossom quesadillas and they’re gone. It’s a very traditional use for squash blossoms in the southwest and into Mexico, and with good reason. They’re good.
But, sometimes, you just get that craving for a bit of fried goodness; it doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as it’s fried and crispy. So, we decided that we’d use the squash blossoms as an appetizer before lunch and we’d quick make a batter and pan fry them. Now, we’ve seen a number of recipes that call for deep-frying the blossoms, but we don’t do that. We think the recipes that call for deep-frying come from restaurants or those TV chefs who don’t have to clean up after themselves. Whereas, us scratchers, we’d have to do something with all that oil as part of our cleanup. No way! It’s pan fry all the way.
Really, this is nothing other than a simple cornmeal batter, so feel free to use any spices you want, although we do recommend that you use something spicy-hot, like the chipotle powder. Squash blossoms are bland and you need something to perk them up. For the buttermilk, we always recommend making your own. See how here. The oil for frying can be any light, neutral flavored oil, such as canola or corn. Flour, we don’t specify, so use what you want: whole-wheat or all-purpose will work.
Procedure in detail:
Remove stamens and pistils. Some people will have you use your finger to reach into the blossom and carefully pull out the stamens and pistil. We find that we end up tearing the blossom open, so now we just take a knife and make a slit from bottom to top of the blossom, then reach in and pry out the pistil and stamen. And, since we’re not stuffing these blossoms, the slit won’t matter a bit. If needed, rinse the blossoms under running water, then pat dry.
Heat oil. The batter goes together in a minute, so you might as well start heating the oil in the meantime. Place the oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. In about 5 minutes it should be ready for frying. To check, you can place a drop of batter in the oil. If it sizzles, it’s hot enough. If the oil smokes, it’s too hot: turn down the heat.
Make batter. In a wide shallow bowl (makes for easier coating of the blossoms), mix together the cornmeal, flour, salt, garlic powder, paprika, chipotle powder, and buttermilk. It should make a batter that will be pourable. A thinner batter is better for coating the blossoms.
Fry. Holding a blossom by the stem end, drag it through the batter. Turn over and drag it through again. Place it in the hot oil, where it should sizzle. Repeat with the remaining blossoms, placing them in the pan with space between. Fry for about 3-5 minutes on a side, or until crispy and browned.
Serve. Remove the blossoms from the skillet, drain briefly on a paper towel, then serve while hot and crispy.
We rounded out our appetizer plate with a couple of pepperoncinis, and topped them with a few with small spoonfuls of Caramelized Onion Chutney that we’d made the other day. Delicious. If you don’t have chutney, we suggest that you have these with just a little something, perhaps a pesto or a salsa, something that will add a bit of liquid. The batter turned out nicely: crunchy, with just a bite of spiciness, but not enough to make anyone rush off for a glass of water, or make their eyes water (we’ve had dishes like that sometimes). Overall, it’s pretty easy to make these up; plus, they’re a tasty way to eat squash blossoms. In our book, anything coated in batter and fried gets at least four stars, so four it is.