More Babies and Blossoms (of Summer Squash)

Anybody who has ever raised summer squash and zucchini knows that there will come a time when there will be more squash than you can use.  In fact, there will probably be more squash than you, your family and your neighbors can use.

Recipes using the blossoms and baby squash are a great way to enjoy the extra bounty. Here are a few of my favorites.

Spinach Stuffed Summer Squash
10 – 15 small to baby squash, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 cup chicken flavored stuffing mix
1 pound fresh baby spinach, steamed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Brush cut side of squash with olive oil; sprinkle with salt, and pepper. Place squash, cut side down, on a lined baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes, or until tender. Scoop out pulp, keeping shells intact; reserve pulp. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook 5 minutes or until transparent. To the skillet, add stuffing mix, spinach, sour cream, cheddar and squash pulp. Mix together and add salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for 3 minutes. Spoon mixture evenly into squash shells. Place on baking sheet, and bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until heated through. Serve immediately.

Baby Squash Pickles
2 1/2 pounds baby summer squash
1 medium onion, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rings
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (preferably dark amber)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
8 allspice, slightly crushed
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

Blanch squash and onion in a medium pot of well-salted boiling water 2 minutes. Immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to stop cooking. Let stand until cool, then drain and transfer vegetables to a large glass or ceramic bowl.

Bring remaining ingredients, along with 4 teaspoons salt, to a boil in a medium saucepan, then pour over vegetables. Place a plate with a 3-pound weight (such as 2 large cans) on top to keep vegetables submerged.

Cool, then chill (with weight) at least 3 days for flavors to develop.

Cheesy Stuffed Squash Blooms
7 ounces drained crumbly ricotta cheese (drain over a sieve in paper towels)
1/4 of a nutmeg finely grated, or a pinch of ground nutmeg
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 lemon, zest finely grated, plus 2 lemons, halved for serving
A small bunch fresh mint leaves,  finely chopped
1 to 2 fresh red chilies, halved, seeded and very finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 3/4 cups self-rising flour, plus a little extra for dusting
1 1/2 cups sparkling water
8 zucchini flowers, with zucchini still attached
Vegetable oil
A few sprigs fresh parsley, optional

Beat the drained ricotta in a bowl with the nutmeg, the Parmesan, lemon zest and most of the chopped mint and chilies (keep some aside for garnish). Season carefully, with salt and pepper, to taste.

Put the flour into a mixing bowl with a good pinch of salt. Pour in the sparkling water and whisk until thick and smooth. At this point the consistency of the batter should be like heavy cream – if it’s too thin, add a bit more flour; if it’s too thick, and add a little more water.

Open the zucchini flowers up gently, keeping them attached to the zucchini (snip off the pointed stamen inside because these taste bitter).

With a teaspoon, carefully fill each flower with the ricotta mixture. Carefully press the flowers back together around the mixture to seal it in. Then put the flowers aside.

Heat oil up to 350 degrees F or, if using a saucepan, use a thermometer to know when oil reaches temperature.  One by one, dip the zucchini with their ricotta-stuffed flowers into the batter, making sure they’re completely covered, and gently let any excess drip off. Carefully release them, away from you, into the hot oil. Quickly batter another 1 or 2 flowers and any small zucchini leaves if you have any – but don’t crowd the pan too much otherwise they’ll stick together. Fry until golden and crisp all over, then lift them out of the oil and drain on the paper towels. Remove to a plate or board and sprinkle with a good pinch of salt and the remaining chili and mint. Serve with half a lemon to squeeze over.

Squash Blossom Quesadillas
Olive oil, for cooking
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 poblano pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced
10 individual fresh squash blossoms
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 sprigs fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 (10-inch) flour tortillas
1/4 pound gueso blanco grated (Mexican white cheese)

Heat a large sauté pan with oil and sauté the onion, garlic, and the roasted poblano pepper for 5 minutes, until  onions are translucent. Add the squash blossoms and chicken stock. Add cilantro, and cook for another 5 minutes, until squash blossoms have wilted.

Season with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool.

Lay 2 of the tortillas on a flat surface and sprinkle cheese equally on both. Spread half of the squash blossom filling over the cheese. Cover with the other tortilla, place on heated griddle or nonstick sauté pan with a little oil. Cook for 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown on each side and cheese has melted. Remove and cut into quarters to serve.

Breaded Squash Rounds
4 to 5 medium summer squash, sliced into ½ inch rounds
2 beaten eggs
Bread crumbs to dredge
Olive oil to fry – no more than half fill of pan – 350 – 360 degree F oil

Dip the rounds into egg mixture and dredge into crumbs. Allow rounds to set 10 – 15 minutes.

Carefully fry until golden brown. Remove from oil  and cool on rack to drain well.

Other serving suggestions:
Squash Parmesan
Squash Lasagna

Summer squash are very versatile and can be substituted for other squashes and gourds.  Breaded rounds can be made and frozen flat on cookie sheets, then put in plastic bags for later use.  Very small squash can be used in salads. Baby squash also are wonderful on your favorite vegetable dip platters!

Don’t complain about your bounty of summer squash, because like the lighting bugs of summer evenings they will soon be gone.

About Dori Fritzinger

I live and work with my multi-generational family in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. We have a farm of cows and calves, wool sheep, dairy goats, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens, honey bees, a horse and a donkey. We have a goat's milk soap and bath products line available on our farm web site. I enjoy reading, quilting and doing embroidery.

3 thoughts on “More Babies and Blossoms (of Summer Squash)

  1. I have a friend that says the only reason people lock their car doors in Alabama is to keep folks from filling their back seats with yellow squash. :)