August 18, 2009 | Appetizers, Vegetables
One of the best things about traveling in Italy is the fried appetizer (antipasto) dish they serve called frito misto. While many varieties are offered throughout the country – vegetables, seafood, or meat – my very favorite is the cheese filled fried squash blossom.Italians frequently use a batter similar to a light tempura batter, but I prefer a breadcrumb coating as you can’t beat the crispiness of the resulting appetizer.It all starts with the blossoms – you might have noticed I was overrun with zucchini this year and I finally got the great idea that if I just picked off the blossoms and fried them up, I’d slow down the bumper crop that was taking over. I tried to harvest the flowers unsuccessfully for about a week before figuring out you have to pick them in the middle of the day when they are in full bloom. Once them begin to wilt and the zucchini vegetable itself is already sprouted, the blossoms aren’t really good anymore. Here are the few I gathered up for my experiment. Since they were from my own organic garden and sensa (without) dirt, I didn’t bother washing them. Depending on where you get yours, you might have to rinse them, but just make sure you spin them dry before proceeding if you do. I found this Dill & Garlic version of Haystack Mountain’s goat cheese while looking for just plain cheese, and decided this would save me a step in seasoning the cheese for stuffing. If you use a plain cheese (goat cheese, mozzarella, Fontina are all good choices) you might want to add some seasoning (garlic, paprika, dill), some herbs (like basil), or something else like chopped sundried tomatoes or toasted pine nuts. I just cut a corner off that package of cheese so I could squeeze out about an inch long piece of cheese into each blossom.As you press the blossom together, the cheese acts as a sort of glue holding everything in place for the next step. Dredge them in flour that you’ve seasoned with salt and pepper and make sure to shake off the excess.
I took about 5 minutes to capture some photos of the final product – and then promptly, I’m embarrassed to admit, ate this entire plate of fried squash blossoms. Not sure I’ve had that tasty of a dinner in weeks!
- 8 large squash blossoms
- 4 ounces goat cheese, plain or flavored
- ½ cup flour
- salt and pepper
- 1 large egg, beaten
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Place ½ ounce goat cheese into the center of each squash blossom and gently press the flower closed so that it sticks to the cheese. Season flour with salt and pepper and dredge blossoms in flour, shaking off any excess. Dip into egg, then bread crumbs, then set aside and repeat with remaining blossoms. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat; add olive oil and cook squash blossoms until nicely browned on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Drain on a paper towel and season with salt and pepper while hot. Serve immediately for best results.