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Stuffed Squash Blossoms with Sweet Saffron Rice.


Stuffed Squash Blossoms! Such a poetic culinary phrase, which now has discernible context to my swooning taste buds. This trendy edible fleur lives up fully to its gourmand reputation. Prettiest ingredient ever?

Farmer's Market Blossoms. I spotted a large container of squash blossoms (edible flowers) at one of the smaller, organic NYC Greenmarket vendor booths. I inspected them closely - as if I knew what to look for in squash blossoms.

"How much for the squash blossoms?" I asked.
She replied, "Five dollars." I grabbed my last five dollar bill from my bag, and did a quick exchange without hesitation.

Squash blossoms on board.
I had no intention of buying squash blossoms that day, but those fluffy fairy-skirt-looking flowers snagged my interest and I stuffed them carefully into my canvas bag - right next to the heirloom tomatoes and bag-busting XL bunch of kale.

Now what in the world do I do with squash blossoms?? And what do they taste like? Find out...











What is a Squash Blossom? A squash blossom is just what it sounds like. A flower that forms off of a squash plant. There are two varieties - male and female. The male variety is what is shown in my post. These blossoms can be easily harvested without interfering with the growing squash veggies. The female variety forms off of a small squash. They are usually harvested with squash still attached. Photos here.

Where do I Buy Squash Blossoms?
Probably not at your local supermarket. You'll have to head to super-specialty markets and summer Farmer's Markets to find these delicacies. And FYI, they are very delicate! Upon buying them - I'd advise to use them that day or store them at 34 degrees for maybe a day. I had my blossoms in the fridge for about 5 hours and they were still happy fresh blossoms. But overnight I'd imagine some wilting would occur. Bottom Line: Buy fresh, eat fast. Farmer's Market probably required.

Craving Edible Flowers? You may be able to find other varieties of edible flowers at some supermarkets. Ive seen them at Whole Foods. Check the refrigerated salad and sprouts section.

Farmer's Market Fresh:


Squash Blossom Taste Test. I googled, asked, checked, checked again and made sure - yes, you can eat squash blossoms raw. Just one hint of advice, wash them well and check for any tiny bugs living on (or inside) the leaves.

Raw Bite. I popped the entire blossom in my mouth and bit down. One bite blossom. It melted on my tongue like vegan buttery spread. Tender, soft, slightly sweet and savory at the same time.

Eating a Squash Blossom raw is an earthy-sweet flavor and texture experience that can only be described as whimsical. It tasted like I was eating a Disney-drawn golden flower. Colorful adult-candy is what it felt like I was eating.

Squash Blossoms look like one of Thumbelina or Tinkerbell's party dresses. Or maybe even where tiny fairies sleep at night - curled up on a soft golden blossom. Sweet, dreamy and utterly...magical.

..OK, OK, reel me in from my obtuse world of fairy dust and lets get back to my vegan recipe.

What do you do with a Squash Blossom?
I asked my friends on Facebook as well as my friends on Twitter. The responses: ricotta-stuffed and fried was a big winner. Another response: stuff them raw and eat them like a sort of raw, vegan ravioli. Chopped in a salad was another idea - but why chop such a beautiful ingredient?

I liked the "stuffed squash blossoms" idea but what to stuff them with? Vegan cheese, tofu mash, rice, herbed quinoa? Would I serve them raw or fried? I decided to go classic. With recipe inspiration from one of my friends. She raved about Ricotta-Stuffed and fried Squash Blossoms that she had eaten in Italy. And I knew I could veganize that idea...



Cashew Cheese "Ricotta"-Stuffed and Lightly Fried Squash Blossoms...



I decided to lay the finished blossoms on a bed of Sweet Saffron Jasmine Rice. Simple, aromatic, eye-popping yellow color, a hint of garlic and nutritional yeast - certainly fit for a fleur. This rice was so good that I will be making it again - squash blossoms or not! Leftovers: Add a few chickpeas to your leftover rice for a quick and easy lunch.



Note: You should eat your fried squash blossoms ASAP - when they are hot. No leftovers there.

Thirty Minute Meal. This elegant-looking plate is much easier than I had imagined. I was feasting on blossoms and rice in under 30 minutes. My recipes...

Sweet Saffron Rice
vegan

4 cups water
2 cups jasmine white rice
1 tsp saffron
3-4 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 1/2 Tbsp herbed citrus sea salt
2 Tbsp EVOO
3-4 Tbsp nutritional yeast

Squash Blossoms

8-10 medium squash blossoms, rinsed
1/4 cup EVOO for "light frying"
1/3 cup nutritional yeast for coating
1 cup harissa (or plain) cashew soft cheese mixture
finish with salt and pepper
optional: cayenne mixed into the nutritional yeast coating for extra spicy blossoms

Harissa Soft Cashew Cheese Mixture
Follow the instructions in this post.
The Short Directions: Soak your raw cashews in salted water overnight. Blend them in a food processor with about 1-2 cups of the soaking water. Add flavor (in this case I used harissa) Season to taste. Transfer to bowl and use as Squash Blossom Stuffing. Full instructions here. Stop at the step before you hang/drain the mixture. Here is what my mixture looked like:



Directions:

1. Make the rice. Bring your water to a boil, add in the EVOO, saffron and rice. When the water is boiling, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover pot and let simmer for about 20 minutes. (Time will vary depending on the rice you use)



2. Gently rinse your squash blossoms in cold water. Check for any tiny bugs. I found and removed a few. These are farm fresh, organic..

3. If you haven't made you cheese mixture yet do so now - I like to make my soft cashew cheese the night before and stick it in the fridge to chill. It firms up a bit and is easier to stuff into the blossoms that way.

4. Stuffing a Squash Blossom is harder than it sounds! Start with a small blossom or one that is already torn/blemished - less of a loss if flub it up. Use a tiny spoon. Don't try to fill it all in one swoop - until you get the hang of it. I like to slide the spoon in, then use the blossoms to close the bud and scrape off the filling. After a few tries you should find an acceptable method that gets the job done.



5. Set all your stuffed squash blossoms aside and check on the rice. At this point it should be just about done, so you can now fold in the nutritional yeast, sweetener (maple or agave or honey), garlic powder and salt and pepper. Do a taste test and modify as needed. When the rice is done, let it sit on the stove - heat off - to cool a bit.

6. Frying the blossoms. This will be a very light fry. Gently drudge each blossom through your nutritional yeast flakes and set back on the plate. Add you EVOO to a skillet and turn the heat on high. When the oil warms add about 5 blossoms to the pan. Let fry for only about 30-60 seconds on each side (depending on blossom size). Remove the blossoms with a large spatula and transfer to a paper towel to cool. You do not want to overcook the blossoms. But a little browning will be perfect.

Nutritionl Yeast Coating instead of breadcrumbs:


Light Fry:


Fried and Dried:


7. Plating: Add a thin layer of rice, then layer about 3-4 blossoms on top. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and black pepper if you'd like. I like to garnish with one raw squash blossom.



8. Serve hot! Within ten minutes of removing from the pan is best. But don't burn your mouth out of squash blossom anticipation...Enjoy!



Many More pretty Pics. Can you tell I love squash blossoms. My latest muse...











Frying:













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