edible flowers, squash blossoms and nasturtium among a few, grace us with their company each spring and summer. there's something about delicate squash blossoms that are so beautiful. maybe i find then curious because the plant that grows them is so large and prickly, and produces something so delicate.
i tried my hand at stuffing and frying squash blossoms a couple of times last year. they turned out great. but this year i was yearning for a something a little less fried, so i decided to bake them instead. i wasn't sure how they would turn out, if the cheese would ooze it's way out of the flower cavity and burn on the baking sheet, or if they would never crisp-up and just be a soggy mess. the result was better than i was anticipating. lightly browned, crispy, with a slightly nutty flavor.
because the cheese i used to stuff the flowers is nut-based, it did not contain as much moisture as dairy-based cheese would. if you are planning on using a dairy-based cheese, such as ricotta, i would drain it through a cheese cloth for about 30 minutes prior to using and then blending the herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper by hand. i don't see a need to mustard, cider, lemon juice, or water to a dairy-based mixture.
baked squash blossoms with pine nut cheese
serve these as an appetizer, side dish, or even on top of a bowl of greens. these are best when served hot and right out of the oven.
| makes 10 stuffed blossoms
10 squash blossoms, rinsed and stamens removed (the fuzzy yellow part inside the bloom)
1 tablespoon olive oil
large grain sea salt
for the cheese:
adapted from The First Mess
1/2 cup pine nuts, soaked in hot water for at least 2 hours
1 1/2 teaspoon good dijon mustard (i use Maille)
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons (about 10 leaves) fresh basil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves removed
pinches of fine grain sea salt to taste
couple turns fresh ground pepper
- in a food processor, combine soaked pine nuts, mustard, water, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs. blend, scraping down the sides of the processor. taste, add salt and pepper according to your preference. scoop into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (i made mine the day before. letting the "cheese" rest allows the flavors to really come together. if you don't have the time, by all means use right away, it will still taste awesome!)
- pre heat oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- rinse and let squash blossoms air dry. using a small knife, make a slit on one side. cut the stamen from the inside of the flower (hard yellow fuzzy stem inside the flower)
- using a tiny spoon (you can also use a piping bag), fill each flower. i used about 2 healthy spoonfuls for each flower
- twist the end of the flower to close. place the flowers on your baking sheet. using a pastry brush, lightly coat each flower with olive oil (bottoms too), and sprinkle them with large grain sea salt
- bake at 400° for 10 minutes checking them halfway through. my oven is a little funky so i ended up baking them for 10 minutes on 400° and then turning up the heat to 425° for another 5 minutes to get them nice and crispy. in the end you want them a nice golden brown, so anywhere between 10-15 minutes should do it in any normal oven :)