This week, we are giving the CSA a break after 3 steady weeks of summer squash heavy in the baskets. It’ll be there as an optional grab in our walk-in, but not mandatory. Just to mix it up a bit, squash blossoms will make an appearance in the basket. Squash blossoms are so beautiful and delicate and unless you are growing squash or eating out, you probably rarely see them. They are so highly perishable that I can’t imagine any major retailer of food would ever be able to sell them and if they find a way, I wouldn’t trust it. Good, more for me.
In the picking of the squash blossoms, you want to make sure you harvest the male flowers (the females will become your squash). The males are the ones with the long stems. I put my blossoms harvested this morning right into a bag in refrigeration and all was good when I opened them up late afternoon to make this snack.
If the thought of tediously stuffing little delicate flowers makes you shudder, no worries. These are just as delicious battered and fried all on their own.
Tempura Squash Blossoms with Smoked Sardines
1 medium smoked sardine (about 2 tablespoons worth of fish)**
1/8 cup cream cheese
1 tablespoon scallions, minced
1 tablespoon minced parsley
squeeze of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup seltzer water
1/8 – 1/4 cup unbleached white flour
2 tablespoons corn meal
Grape seed oil to coat bottom of your pan 1/2 inch up.
Mash together the sardine, cream cheese, scallions, parsley and lemon juice. Salt to taste. Using a small spoon, very delicately spoon the mixture into the center of the blossom and press in with your thumb.
Set aside all filled squash blossoms. In a medium skillet, heat 1/2 inch of grape seed oil. While the oil is heating up, put the seltzer water in a bowl. You will want to then mix in the flour a little at a time with the cornmeal. You’ll want to have a nice semi-thick consistency. But not so thick that the flower is weighed down by the mixture.
Once the oil is hot take a blossom in your hand, slowly twist the top around the filling while coating it with tempura batter. Immediately drop into hot oil. Continue to do so, one by one until all blossoms are in oil. Brown the blossoms on both sides. This recipe will fry about 15-20 blossoms.
I love to cut the fat of warm, fried summer foods with the freshness of a green salad and a tart vinaigrette. Because we are in the heat of the southern summer we are also in a lettuce lull. In place of crispy butter crunch, I’ve got crispy cucumbers. A little bit of sesame oil, lemon and parsley makes a beautiful little cucumber salad to enjoy with these tasty morsels.
** I purchased these Sardines at Whole Foods and they are lightly smoked and packed in olive oil with lemon. Did you know that the term “sardine” refers to various small fish and not one particular fish? I just learned that last year. I don’t think finding this exact type of canned sardine is necessary but I would go with one packed in oil.