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The Goodness of Squash Blossoms

Apr/16/2023 / by Rashmi Gopal Rao

Besides their resplendent beauty, they also double up as a wonderful cooking ingredient

A dish made with squash blossoms
A dish made with squash blossoms. Shutterstock

Come spring and nature is abuzz with colorful blooms. From roses to lilies and dahlias to chrysanthemums, they all spruce up the place. But, apart from adding to the world’s beauty, a lot of flowers are edible, too.

Palate-Pleasers

Edible flowers have been part of human diet since as early as 3000 BC. The Chinese and Romans used flowers like rose, violet and lavender in their cooking. Apart from these, blooms like elderberry, moringa, neem, hibiscus, jasmine and squash blossoms are known for their unique texture, flavor, and even health benefits. Most edible flowers are known to have resolve digestive problems, skin allergies, blood sugar levels and even cardiovascular issues. And one such refreshing flower that is pretty on the plant as well as on the plate and palate are squash blossoms.

A Popular Edible Flower

Also called courgette flowers in Great Britain, squash blossoms belong to the Cucurbita family, which includes zucchini and other types of squash. These bright yellowish-orange, flowers bloom from late spring to almost the early days of fall. The entire flower is edible and is best picked once they are fully opened, which is usually in the later part of the morning. Consume them while fresh as the flower wilts within a couple of days. Wash them with cold water and dry them over a paper towel. Before using them for cooking, remove the stamen and pistil. While both the male and female flowers are edible, it is always recommended to leave a few female flowers on the plant to produce the fruit.

Unlike many edible flowers, squash blossoms have a mild and not overpowering flavor. Further, it does not have a strong fragrance, thus making it right for many dishes. The flower has a mild, slightly sweet and nutty flavor, similar to raw cucumber or young zucchini. The texture is a bit silky and the subtle taste blends into a wide variety of cooking styles, including is baking, frying or raw.

Dishes Galore

While they can be had raw, squash blossoms are also right for soups and salads. Toss them with fresh veggies, such as peppers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and cucumber. Drizzle with olive oil, herbs, seeds like pumpkin or chia seeds and lemon juice and you have a refreshing salad ready.

The blossoms also form an ideal addition to onion, leek and chicken soups. Drop the blossoms in boiling water for a minute and then transfer to ice-cold water and allow to stand for a couple of minutes. Once done, you can either chop them fine or blend into a smooth mixture before adding it to the soup.

Stuffing them with ricotta cheese along with pepper and herbs is a popular way of consuming squash blossoms. While basil, oregano and mint are classic herbs, you can also play around with chives and parsley. Further, you can substitute ricotta with Gruyere or goat cheese. The stuffed blossoms are dipped in a batter of corn starch or refined flour and then fried. If you do not want to fry them, try baking them.

Just Desserts

If you have a sweet tooth, dip these blossoms in pancake batter before frying. Once done, drizzle maple syrup or fresh cream and serve with berries or whipped ricotta. Squash blossoms also go well with pasta and quesadilla.

Squash blossoms are easily available online on Amazon, and other platforms like Instacart and Chef’s Garden.

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