Sunday, August 1, 2010

Baked Squash Blossoms with Ricotta, Basil and Mint

Today at the farmer's market behind the Museum of Natural History I was struck by the number of vendors selling squash blossoms, as well as how lovely the squash blossoms looked.  Since we had no dinner plans for the evening, I picked up a dozen squash blossoms.  On our way home Alex and I were discussing what to do with our squash blossoms.  In the past we have had the most success when we made fritattas with our squash blossoms (once we tried to simply saute them and somehow it just wasn't very good).  We have been talking about making squash blossom quesadillas for awhile as well, but seeing as we just had quesadillas last Friday we wanted to try something else.  Instead we decided to make "fried" squash blossoms by breading them with panko breadcrumbs and then baking them in the oven.

So I would say these squash blossoms aren't one of our biggest successes, but they were quite good.  Alex said that the filling needed some crushed red pepper flakes and I might have to agree with him.  The filling definitely needed something additional to make it sing.  Perhaps if we had served the squash blossoms on top of a white pizza with lots of garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and a little Italian parsley, or a pasta dish they would have been a star, but served on their own they didn't quite get there.  The filling was tasty - nice and fresh, and the breading was nicely crispy, but something was missing.  Perhaps a dipping sauce?  Or perhaps baked squash blossoms just can't compare with their fried counterparts.  Thoughts?

Recipe after the jump!

Baked Squash Blossoms with Ricotta, Basil and Mint

12-15 squash blossoms, depending on size (we had 14)
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Wash and clean the squash blossoms, removing the pistil from the inside of the flower, and gently pat  them dry.  Clean the squash blossoms very carefully, both inside and out, because they often have bugs inside them.

In a small mixing bowl combine the ricotta, mint, basil, and s&p to taste.  Carefully fill squash blossoms with ricotta mixture, either using a teaspoon or a piping bag if you have one.  If you don't have a piping bag, but prefer piping to using a spoon, you can fill a ziploc bag with the mixture and then cut one of the corners of the bag off.  I find that it is easier to use a teaspoon than trying to make a ghetto piping bag, but that's just me.  After you fill each squash blossom with ricotta, twist the tops of the blossoms tight to seal in the ricotta mixture.

Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  Put together a breading station with the lightly beaten eggs in one shallow baking dish or tray, and a combination of the panko breadcrumbs and parm-reg cheese in another.
Dredge squash blossoms in egg, allowing the excess to drip off.  Dredge squash blossoms to coat lightly in breadcrumbs, again removing excess.  As you coat each blossom, add it to the baking sheet.  Once all of the blossoms have been prepared, spray lightly with nonstick baking spray.

Cook squash blossoms in the oven until the panko starts to become lightly golden and crisp, about 20 minutes.  If you want you can flip the squash blossoms over halfway through so the sides brown evenly.

Remove from oven and serve.

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