Photo by willsfca/Flickr CC
For the green dinner partyist, little known agricultural byproducts constitute some of the hippest things on the market. Garlic scapes are picked off the plant to increase bulb size, but a scape pesto can be the envy of all your friends.
Purslain might be a crawling weed to farmers, but it's ten dollars a bag at the farmer's market. Stinging nettles are excruciating in their natural state, but bake them on pizza and you are sure to yield the response, "I didn't know you could eat nettles!" to which you can smile knowingly, because you read Anastatia's post.
A squash blossom functions essentially as a naturally occurring dumpling wrapper.
A similar principle applies to one of the fanciest appetizers the home chef can feasibly manage: squash blossoms. A squash plant has two different kinds of flowers: male and female. The male provides pollen, the bee takes it to the female, and the female makes fruit.
A few male flowers, however, can provide more than enough pollen to pollinate an entire plant's worth of female blossoms (those cads), so from midsummer through fall, that leaves a farmer with a glut of harvestable male squash blossoms.
A squash blossom functions essentially as a naturally occurring dumpling wrapper. You can pick them at the stem from the plant, stuff them, and fry them. What you stuff them with varies, but I like to use half an anchovy, a dab of ricotta, and a little bit of parmesan. Some people use feta. Fry them in just enough olive oil, throw those bad boys on a rectangular plate and the ladies will swoon.
To be, as they say, "wicked" fancy, stitch the tip of the blossom together with thorns. To be less fancy, forget to take them out before you eat it.
Stuffed Squash Blossoms
For each male squash blossom you'll need:
• A dab of ricotta • Half an anchovy
• A pinch of parmesan
Fill the squash blossom with the ricotta, parmesan, and anchovy. Fry lightly in olive oil on each side, about 3 minutes each. Let cool a bit before serving.
For another way to make stuffed squash blossoms, click here for a recipe that uses feta and mint.