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The squash blossom: A culinary unsung hero

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Spring has sprung! For the culinary-obsessed individuals on the West Coast, spring means planting vegetables, the beginning of local farmers markets, and sunshine for grilling in the backyard. Let us observe a moment of silence for our East Coast neighbors who may still be shoveling snow…

Okay, back to all the greatness of spring on the West Coast! This spring, as you walk along the farmers’ market rows, probably wearing shorts and tank tops, be on the lookout for a culinary unsung hero: the squash blossom. Sure, the ripe, red fruits may distract you momentarily…go ahead and grab them, you deserve it. And the excitement of local grown carrots, tomatoes, and cucumbers is understandable when a cool, crisp salad on a warm, breezy day sounds refreshing and nourishing…there is room for them in your recyclable tote.

But, should you find squash blossoms, in all their bright, yellow, cheerfully-delicious glory…don’t think twice, just grab as many of those lovely delights as you are able to still fit in your tote. Try not to cause a scene, although it probably wouldn’t be the first time.

While squash blossoms may seem intimidating to work with, they’re actually quite easy to use. Here are some steps to creating an appetizer that wows.

1. Clean – rinse blossoms, pull out the little point inside the blossom if it has one (style/stigma) and clip or pull off any additional green leaves and points, but keeping on the green cap of the stem that holds the petals together.
2. Stuff – choose a filling! Decisions, decisions! Some examples include salami and provolone slices, crab and chive cream cheese, marinated mozzarella, ground beef and cheese, jalapeno and cream cheese. The possibilities are endless, and you only need about a tablespoon per blossom.
3. Coat – Any batter will do, and lots of recipes exist to diversify taste. A general batter recipe is ½ cup flour, ½ cup cornstarch, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, ½ tbsp salt – mix these ingredients together and then add 1 cup cold water and 2 tablespoons oil. To coat, just grab the stem of the filled blossom and drag it through the batter, then drop it into
4. Fry – any vegetable oil will work. If you aren’t using a deep fryer, make sure the pot or pan you use has at least 2 inches of oil for the blossom and do a few at a time.

Enjoy as a meal for one along with a nice salad and chilled glass of wine, or as an appetizer for any size of group! Squash blossoms provide a versatile, fun, and unique option for your personal culinary adventure. Ship some to relatives in the Midwest if the sunshine has you feeling especially giving and good natured!

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