The season for squash blossoms is almost over: we may have another few days or so to enjoy these colorful flowers. In Italy, squash blossoms are often deep-fried, sometimes stuffed with fresh cheese and anchovies, enrobed in a light batter before they crisp to golden perfection in hot olive oil. But they are also stirred into pasta sauces, added to frittate, dragged in a hot pan with aromatics as a side dish, or baked under a dusting of grated Parmigiano. I love squash blossoms every which way; their delicate floral sweetness is haunting, the romance of eating a flower only part of the pleasure.
Here is the way I prepared squash blossoms last week, after a trip to a nearby farmer’s market. We grow marjoram on our deck, but basil or parsley would be equally delicious if marjoram is hard to find. To stretch the pleasure, serve the blossoms with fresh tagliatelle you’ve boiled and tossed with olive oil and grated Parmigiano: delicious.
One word of advice: squash blossoms are very delicate, so buy them the day you plan to cook them.
- 16 squash blossoms
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- 1 teaspoon fresh marjoram leaves
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Rinse the blossoms thoroughly under a thin, light spray of cool water, gently opening out the leaves and running your fingers inside each blossom to remove any small insects.
Using your fingers, remove the hard long stem inside each blossom. It is bitter and must be removed.
Remove the thin thorn-like filaments running up from the bottom of each blossom, just above where the stem ends.
Cut off the stem at the bottom of each blossom, just where it meets the bud (be careful not to cut it too high or you will make a hole in the base of the blossom).
Blot the blossoms dry on paper towels.
Place the olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, and marjoram in a 12-inch skillet. Set over medium heat and cook until the aroma begins to rise, about 2 minutes, watching that the pine nuts do not burn and stirring as needed.
Raise the heat under the skillet to high. Add the blossoms and cook 3 minutes, or until they wilt to a soft, tangled mass and any liquid has evaporated. Season with the salt and pepper, taste for seasoning, and serve hot.