Squash Blossom Cheddar Fritters
While I wait for the squashes in my garden to shoot out from each bud and blossom, the leafy plants they grow from are giving me plenty of flowers for stuffing, frying, sautéing, and who knows what else I’ll come up with before I’ll spend my time trying to find creative ways to use and preserve the fruit they will give me.
The male flowers that rocket toward to the sun do not produce fruit, but grow on long stems. There are plenty of these in my garden to use frivolously, without feeling as if I’m keeping a fruit from growing every time I snitch one from the plant. Though sneaky snitching of producing flowers actually tricks the plant into putting out more fruit.
I was torn between wanting to make squash blossom fritters– a fried bread with bits of flowers throughout– and battered and fried blossoms. After a little research, I decided to fry them the Italian way, with cheese stuffed inside, only I totally Amercanized them by using sharp cheddar, of the orange variety, rather than Italian cheeses. They were the perfect appetizer for our vegetarian Fun Family Friday Night, which often times means pizza and a movie. Since we ditched the pizza and meat, I fried our dinner in vegetable oil, which I tend to avoid, with the exception of extra virgin olive and cold, expeller pressed virgin coconut, almost as diligently as I steer clear of hydrogenated oils. I don’t think I’d fried anything since last year’s tailgate market fried apple pies. It was fun! And yummy.
The fritters were light and puffy, because squash flowers are so feathery, even after being dipped and fried in a thin batter. The cheese made them feel more substantial, and gave us some of the missing protein we needed in that meal, which included squash flower whole wheat quesaldillas and fresh vegetables from the garden with lemony hummus.
10 to 15 squash flowers
App. 1/2 c. extra sharp cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
1 egg, whisked like crazy
1/2 c. all-purpose flour, I used Bob’s Red Mill Organic Unbleached. It’s a little heavier than “regular” so the batter may need to be adjusted if another is used.
1/3 c. whole milk
1/2 tsp. pink Himalayan salt. This may need to be adjusted, as well, since Himalayan is less salty than table salt.
Pinch of nutmeg
Oil for frying. Enough for a depth of 1 1/2 to 2″ in the pan you choose to use.
Whisk the flour into the beaten egg to make a paste, working it to smooth.
Whisk in the milk. Stir in the salt and nutmeg.
Remove the stamens or pistils from the inside of each flower by grasping the stem and pulling it from the flower. It should just pop out, intact.
Place a cube of cheese in each flower.
Heat the oil over medium to high heat. I don’t test the temp. with a thermometer, but see how a drop of batter fries to know when it’s ready. Then I just keep the temp. adjusted as I’m frying to make sure it doesn’t get too hot.
Completely dip each flower in batter. I was afraid the cheese would leak out, but because I made sure the entire flour was covered in my sticky batter, the cheese stayed in and I didn’t have the mess I anticipated.
Fry them in the batter for a few minutes on each side, until they are golden brown.
Remove them with a slotted or perforated spoon to a paper-lined plate. Coffee filters work really well, especially for someone who doesn’t buy paper towels or napkins unless it’s a holiday cooking week, we are going camping, or company is coming over for dinner, and I realize as I’m frying something, that I can’t use linen napkins or dish towels to drain my fried food on.
The cheese ends up all warm and melty inside. Mmmmm…
Yield: 10 to 15 fritters, depending on the size of the blossoms used.