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Squash isn’t setting? Eat the flowers

Recipe: Stuffed squash blossoms with mushrooms and blue cheese

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Zucchini blossoms are edible and delicious. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Do your zucchini have lots of flowers but no squash? Eat the blossoms.

Many of those squash flowers (especially the early ones) are male; they’ll never form fruit. But they are edible -- and delicious.

Squash blossoms can be chopped, sautéed and added to quesadillas, frittatas and omelets or used as filling in chilies. They can also be used in soups and raw in salads. Before cooking, remove the thin green sepals at the base of the flower; they tend to be chewy.

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Gently slit side of flower to open up petals before stuffing
For a great summer appetizer, stuff the blossoms, dip in beaten egg and flour, then fry. The stuffing can vary by what you have on hand; you can even use more blossoms, chopped and sautéed with onion and mixed with cheese.

This stuffing complements the squash blossom’s own delicate flavor and holds together while assembling and cooking. During frying, the cheese melts just enough inside the blossom. Yum!

Who needs zucchini when the blossoms taste this good?

This recipe makes 1 cup stuffing, enough to fill 24 blossoms. Scale the amount of stuffing to the number of blossoms you have to stuff.

Stuffed squash blossoms with mushrooms and blue cheese

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:
24 squash blossoms

2 tablespoons butter

¼ cup onion, chopped

½ cup mushrooms, chopped

1/3 cup blue cheese

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup cracker crumbs (about 8 Ritz crackers)

2 eggs, beaten

Flour to coat

Extra virgin olive oil or other oil for frying

Instructions:
Trim squash blossoms. Cut off sepals and trim stems to about 1 inch long.

In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Saute onions and mushrooms until soft. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

In a bowl, mix together cheeses and cracker crumbs. Add onions and mushrooms; mix.

Gently slit open one side of each flower, spreading the petals apart. Tuck one heaping spoonful of stuffing inside each blossom. Wrap the petals around the stuffing, twisting the end slightly to close.

Once blossoms are stuffed, heat oil (about ¼ inch deep) in a large heavy skillet. Gently roll each stuffed blossom in beaten egg, then roll in flour. Fry in skillet until brown, about 3 minutes each side.

Remove from oil with a slotted spoon or spatula and set aside, keeping warm.

Serve immediately with ranch dressing or other dipping sauce, if desired.

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Fried and stuffed squash blossoms make a great summer appetizer.




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RECIPE

A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.

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Garden Checklist for week of April 14

It's still not warm enough to transplant tomatoes directly in the ground, but we’re getting there.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden needs nutrients. Fertilize shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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