Thursday, June 18, 2009

Zucchini Blossoms: Tastes Like Squash Perfume

Zucchini Blossoms: Tastes Like Squash Perfume
by Neda Ulaby

To Listen to story Click Here.

Morning Edition, June 18, 2009 - The corner of First and R streets in Northwest Washington, D.C., used to be better known as an open-air drug market. Now the intersection is home to a farmers market. Every Sunday, Ted McGinn presides over a collection of crisp white tents set up on the asphalt, each blanketed with strawberries, shelled peas and tender yellow squash blossoms.

"We have squash blossoms today," says McGinn, the market manager. "[They're] not only a Native American treat, but also very popular in the Mediterranean countries." He describes one popular preparation that involves stuffing each blossom with mozzarella and anchovies before frying it in hot olive oil.

"They're beautiful," marvels Robin Shuster, who helped organize the market three years ago. She compares the elegant blossoms to lilies in a vase. Shuster convinced farmer Bernard Boyle to truck in squash blossoms from Garner's Produce his acreage up in Virginia's Northern Neck.

Want to know more about zucchini blossoms? Here are the basics:

What do zucchini blossoms taste like? Like squash perfume!

How can I tell if a blossom is ripe? It should look like a lily in a vase. Avoid blossoms that are wilted, crumpled or droopy.

How long will it stay fresh? Less than a day! Squash blossoms are delicate and ephemeral.

How should I store a blossom? Keep it out of sunlight and eat it soon, soon, soon.

What's a simple way to prepare it? Stuff each blossom with a cube of cheese, drizzle with olive oil and then bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

How long are zucchini blossoms in season? For the first few months of summer.

Easy Baked Squash Blossoms

Recipe from Robin Shuster of the Bloomingdale Farmers Market in Washington, D.C.

• 1 egg
• 1 cup ricotta
• handful of parsley and chives
• salt and pepper to taste
• olive oil
• zucchini blossoms

Mix cheese, egg and spices together and stuff into zucchini blossoms. Twist the blossom ends. Drizzle olive oil over them and bake in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. (Blossoms should be crisp and transparent.)

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