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Squash isn’t setting? Eat the flowers

Recipe: Stuffed squash blossoms with mushrooms and blue cheese

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.

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

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

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.

Fried and stuffed squash blossoms make a great summer appetizer.


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


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Nov. 26:

Concentrate on helping your garden stay comfortable during these frosty nights – and clean up all those leaves!

* Irrigate frost-tender plants such as citrus in the late afternoon. That extra soil moisture increases temperatures around the plant a few degrees, just enough to prevent frost damage. The exception are succulents; too much water before frost can cause them to freeze.

* Cover sensitive plants before the sun goes down. Use cloth sheets or frost cloths, not plastic sheeting, to hold in warmth. Make sure to remove covers in the morning.

* Use fall leaves as mulch around shrubs and vegetables. Mulch acts as a blanket and keeps roots warmer.

* Stop dead-heading; let rose hips form on bushes to prompt dormancy.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location – and definitely indoors overnight. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they’ll bloom again next December.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Plant spring bulbs. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Daffodils can be planted without pre-chilling.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers and plant such spring bloomers as sweet peas, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Plant trees and shrubs. They’ll benefit from fall and winter rains while establishing their roots.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins now. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.

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