As some of you know, savory does it for me much more than sweet. That means potato chips, French fries, and a toasted bagel with butter win the captivation contest over cookies and donuts. Just how I’m wired, I guess. The salty treats I just mentioned are gluten-free, but that hardly means calorie-free, so I indulge judiciously (often on a heavy workout day). July-September, however, I’m known to indulge in my salty-fried fetish a little more often because of a delicate and short-lived crop known as the squash blossom.
These gorgeous, pale-orange flowers emanate from zucchini and squash and can be found at farmers markets, or if you’ve played your cards right, from your own garden. They have a miniscule shelf life, so if you’re lucky enough to score a brown paper bag of blossoms, fry ’em up the the same day. A little tip: insects sometimes love to burrow within the cavernous center, so I do the human thing and let them sit on the counter for half an hour or so to allow ample escape time.
To make these gluten-free, use any kind of gluten-free flour or all-purpose baking mix. For this batch, I used mung bean flour found at an Indian imports store, it’s lentil based and super-healthy. If you don’t have a can of seltzer handy, room temperature water will do. I highly recommend grapeseed oil for frying for it’s high flashpoint (meaning it won’t burn easily when using high heat). If you don’t have grapeseed, use light olive oil but DON’T use extra virgin as it will just scorch and become carcinogenic. And you will need higher heat to get these nice and crisp.
I’m sure the blossoms themselves have some nutritional value, making these a healthier choice than a French fry, potato chip, or my personal favorite: a blob of fried dough. But let’s get real: this is basically a fun food, crafted for pure enjoyment. To quote Stuart Smalley directly “…and that’s OK.”
Fried Squash Blossoms
Fresh squash blossoms
1 can plain seltzer
Grapeseed oil for frying.
There are no hard and fast rules here. The idea is to get the oil nice and hot so when the battered blossoms are dropped in they immediately begin sizzling. I don’t use thermometers so start by heating enough oil to at least cover the bottom of a frying skillet. No need to submerge them, but they should fry in at least a shallow pool of hot oil. Turn heat to a medium-high and let the oil heat while you’re mixing the batter. The idea is to make a thin batter with just enough consistency to coat each blossom. If you want the blossoms more doughy, make the batter thicker. I like a fairly thin, crisp coating. Start with about a half cup of flour , add a small amount of seltzer, and stir vigorously with a wire whisk to get out any lumps. You want something that resembles pancake batter, only thinner. Add salt to taste. Dip the blossoms in the batter one at a time, coat thoroughly, then drop into the hot oil, being CAREFUL not to splash yourself. Fry for about 2 minutes on each side or until crisp. As each one cooks, blot on a paper towel and then transfer to a warm oven so the batch remains crisp during cooking time. Or, if you’re like me…eat them as they’re ready. Bon Appetit!