I love butternut squash. Come autumn, I put it in just about anything I can, so this year with me being all revved up with an actual garden for once, I decided to plant some of my own.
While my other plants were taking off in the last couple months, however, my sad little butternut just kind of sat there at the far end of the garden not growing. I was about to give up hope, I really was.
Then, after the July long weekend, we came home and found… it had decided to catch up. Over a week or two my once-scrawny butternut plant took over the entire far side of the garden and is now attempting to climb across the lawn (presumably to take over the entire yard, then the house and, presumably, the world).
This was all rather exciting, so I started poking around the vines to see if any fruits were starting to form. No… not yet. But every morning there would be a flurry of new blossoms which would wilt by the end of the day. So I consulted the interwebz (as one does)…
Turns out, squash plants have both male and female blossoms. The female blossoms have a bulbous bud at the base of the flower- this later becomes a delicious butternut squash (anatomy!). The male blossoms have no such bulb so the flowers are attached directly to a stem. Squash plants usually produce much more male blossoms than female.
Without delving too deep into the biology of the matter, pollination and crazy plant sex and all that, I decided I would start harvesting some of those abundant male blossoms that were going to waste.
If every morning I got 8-12 brand new male blossoms, and if by the end of each day those blossoms were all wilted away… surely I could swipe some every couple days for a good meal?
And so I did. And what a fantastic idea that was.
Since they are such a novel seasonal ingredient, there have been lots of squash and zucchini blossom recipes floating around recently, but you know me… I had to fry mine. A classic fried squash blossom is usually stuffed with fresh herbs and ricotta- delicious, but I still wanted to do something different…
So I did what any home chef would- I checked the fridge. Leftover corn on the cob, bushels of fresh herbs, a pile of fresh jalapeño peppers… yes, yes, that would do just fine.
Colin bottles U-Brew beer every couple months with his friends and they were coming over that afternoon to drink the fruits of their labour, so I came up with a recipe that would act as good beer snacks for us all to enjoy in the backyard (I didn’t have to labour, just drink, so I may as well contribute via the snacks end of things).
Thank you, my gentlemen guinea pigs.
They were such a hit we ended up making them for dinner again twice that week- no kidding.
Charring and seeding the jalapeño peppers mellows their spiciness so the chimichurri does have a kick but won’t turn off those nervous about spice. Trust me, the vibrant green sauce works as a perfect foil to the crispy beer battered blossoms.
While squash blossoms are delicate, they were much easier to work with than I expected so don’t be dissuaded by that. Track down a friend with a plant or ask your local farmers market denizens and have fun experimenting with this truly delicious seasonal treat!
- 12 squash or zucchini blossoms
- ½ cup corn niblets*
- ½ cup black beans
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- ⅓ cup Applewood smoked cheddar, grated
- 1 cup lager or light ale
- 1 cup flour
- 2-3 cups vegetable oil
- Olive oil
- Charred Jalapeño Chimichurri:
- 4 jalapeño peppers, halved lengthwise, seeds and stems removed
- 1 small bunch cilantro
- 1 small bunch parsley
- ⅓ cup white wine vinegar
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat your oven to broil (high). Lightly rub your halved and seeded jalapeños with olive oil and lay them on a baking sheet, skin side up. Broil for 6-8 minutes until the skin has blackened and blistered. Remove from oven and let cool. Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off the blackened skin.
- Add all the chimichurri ingredients in to a blender and puree until smooth.
- Gently trim each of your blossoms, removing the furry stamen in the middle of each flower. Rinse carefully with cool water and set to dry on some paper towel.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the corn, black beans, ricotta and smoked cheddar.
- Stuff each blossom with the corn mixture, gently twisting the ends of each flower to contain the filling.
- In a deep frying pan, start heating the vegetable oil on med-high heat.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the beer and flour to form a batter. Take each stuffed blossom and roll it through the batter, sealing with your fingertips as needed. Drop each battered blossom in to the heated oil and cook for 6-8 minutes, flipping half way through. The batter should be lightly browned and crispy.
- Serve immediately, drizzled with the fresh chimichurri sauce.