I LOVE the South of the James Farmer's Market in Richmond Virginia! I go almost every week, but somehow, I always seem to leave with the same items: eggs, arugula, goat cheese, and dog treats. This past week I made a pact with myself that I would be more adventurous! I am a foodie dammit (or so I’m told). I should be searching the stands for the most novel produce the market has to offer. This week I branched out with a purchase of purple cauliflower and squash blossoms.
I'll admit I’m not a big cauliflower fan, but the purple variety was surprisingly delicious. It has a lovely peppery bite, and after eating a few pieces I was hooked. With an accompaniment of tzaziki and roasted eggplant dip, I ate the entire head in two days flat.
Next, what to do with the squash blossoms…? When I was a kid I saw Mario Batali stuff them with ricotta and fry them on his show Molto Mario. Ever since then I've thought squash blossoms were a sexy ingredient. It’s a mystery to me how I have never eaten one. I guess they are so seasonal and delicate that they are not frequently on restaurant menus.
I decided to follow Mario’s lead and stuff my blossoms with ricotta then fry them. NOTE: Most recipes don’t tell you that you should remove the stamen in the center of the flower. Just cut a slit down one side of the flower and pinch out the stamen in the middle. For the filling I mixed ricotta, parmesan cheese, basil, crispy kale (toasted it on the stove top), chopped pickled garlic, and salt and pepper. I stuffed the flowers with the ricotta mixture and twisted the top of the flower closed. Then I simply dredged them in a little flour and fried them up. The finished product tasted delicate and luxurious. Squash blossoms tastes like…well squash. They were unlike the other perfumey edible flowers I've tried. The creamy ricotta filling was mild enough so that it didn’t overpower the blossoms but added a satisfying richness.
I knew they were good when my boyfriend, who is carnivore through and through, declared it was one of the best dishes I’ve ever made.