Last weekend at the farmers’ market Cameron and I picked up a few containers of squash blossoms, and we’ve been thinking of everything we can make to take full advantage of them before they’re gone until next year. The first thing we tried was tossing them in with some zucchini, a ton of fresh basil, and some rigatoni, which turned out really well, but with one more box in the fridge I decided to do a bit of experimenting.
Last summer Cameron and I made some stuffed squash blossoms that we baked in the oven, but they were sadly a bit underwhelming. So for this batch I definitely knew I would fry them to add some crispness, but the filling was still a question. After searching for some option, I considered a beet and cashew-cheese filling, and even hummus, but decided to make my go-to cashew “cheese” instead. It’s quick, delicious, and easy to customize for different recipes.
Is it possible to whip these up in roughly 30 minutes? Probably, but I would err on the side of 40 to give yourself a bit of time to get everything together. If you’re nervous about frying in oil, don’t be- I promise it isn’t as intimidating as it seems. In fact, I used to be really wary of frying anything in oil because I was convinced I would catch something on fire, but after quite a bit of practice I feel totally comfortable.
These are a perfect pre-dinner snack, they’re lovely with a gin and tonic, or would even be delicious on top of a big salad for dinner.
For the Blossoms/Cashew Cheese
• 10-12 squash blossoms, cleaned, with stems removed
• 1/2 c raw cashews, soaked in enough water to cover for at least 2 hours
• 1 Tbs pine nuts (optional, you could also add a few more cashews instead)
• Small bunch of fresh basil
• Lemon Juice
• Olive oil
• Some water to blend
To make the Cashew Cheese
1. After soaking the cashews for a few hours place them in a blender or small food processor with the pine nuts, a small bunch of basil (don’t worry about chopping, as you’re about to blend it all), a pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp of lemon juice, 1-1 1/2 tsp of olive oil, and 1-2 Tbs water.
2. Blend everything until smooth, and adjust seasoning to taste. You may need to add a bit more water, depending on how long you’ve soaked your cashews, but add a little bit at a time. The consistency should be like hummus
3. Put filling into a ziplock or pastry bag, and fill squash blossoms to just below where the petals begin to split, then gently twist the petals to seal. They should stay closed on their own, but if they won’t you can add a dab of filling to help them stick.
For the Batter
• 1/3 c all purpose flour (I don’t recommend whole wheat)
• 1 Tbs lemon juice
• Pinch of salt
• 1 Tbs nondairy milk (I used cashew)
To Make the Batter
1. Combine flour and salt in a small bowl
2. Add milk, lemon juice, and a few tablespoons of water, whisk until smooth.
The batter should be relatively thin, and just barely coat the blossoms.
To Fry the Squash Blossoms
1. Heat an inch of canola, or other frying oil, in a pan to about 330°F
2. When the oil is hot, dip each squash blossom in batter, then carefully move to the oil. Be careful of your fingers! I found it really effective to hold the end of the blossom with the petals just slightly out of the oil for a few second before letting the whole thing fall in.
3. Cook each for about two minutes, flipping with some tongs, until they are lightly golden and crisp.
4. Remove, and place on a paper towel lines plate to drain, sprinkling with some sea salt as soon as they come out.
You can serve them as they are, or julienne a bit of fresh basil and sprinkle on top.
I know it seems like quite a lot of steps, and it’s definitely a bit time-intensive, but I promise it’s worth it. It’s a great recipe to make for a date night (you can make them together!), or a very impressive appetizer for dinner with friends.