I've been waiting all summer to try making stuffed and fried squash blossoms, and finally got around to it yesterday. I thought stuffing and battering these delicate, feathery blossoms might turn into a disappointing mess, and I was happily so wrong. It's really easy, and if you have access to fresh blossoms - I think any squash works, from zucchini to pumpkin - I promise you will love these things! I don't promise much, so that's how I feel about these.
To start things, I googled vegan squash blossom recipes, and found this very helpful recent post from Tami at Vegan Appetite. I did my breading a little differently, but did a similar cashew cheeze filling - I especially like the touch of white miso with the cashews. My full recipe is below, but here's the final product:
Let's start with fresh blossoms. Mine are usually wide open in the morning, and then close up later in the day...I don't know if picking them at either stage makes a difference, but I picked these later in the afternoon when they were closed up. I've also seen pictures of flowers for sale at farmer's markets that are wide open and blooming. Here's a little bowl of blossoms, along with some fresh herbs that I mixed with the creamy cashew filling.
I made the filling first. Here's the ingredients, blended to a thick, creamy consistency. You could probably get away with using unsoaked cashews if you're in a hurry, but soaking helps make a creamier cheese.
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least a couple hours, or overnight, and drained
1/4 cup raw walnuts
1 tbsp. shiro (white) miso
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes (optional, but great if you like nooch)
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
chopped fresh herbs - sage, Italian parsley, and basil, between a teaspoon and tablespoon of each
salt and black pepper to taste
First process everything but the herbs in a blender or food processor, and mix in the herbs at the end. I think it would look more like a pesto if you add the herbs at the beginning, which would work too. Here's the cashew filling - maybe not the prettiest thing you've ever seen, but delicious - I could eat this by the spoonful.
The tricky part of making these little guys is, of course, getting the filling inside the flower. Some people recommend removing the little inside part of the flower...wikipedia says stigma or pistil, and I bet any flower people totally know what I'm talking about. Anyway, I didn't bother, and didn't notice anything. I say don't worry about it.
My cake decorating funnel bag made filling the blossoms a snap. If you don't have one, you can just cut a small corner off a plastic sandwich bag. Doing this with a little spoon would work too, but I think it would be harder. I filled each blossom about 2/3 full. Back to the Vegan Appetite post, Tami suggests using a little filling to get the blossoms to stick together and stay closed. That's what I did, and it worked perfectly. Here's the stuffed blossoms:
I skipped taking pictures during the breading process, since my hands were a mess and I'm tired of getting food on my camera :)
I'm always tinkering with how to get breading/battering right, and wanted a light, crispy crust for these. This worked pretty well.
1. In one bowl, mix about a cup of water or unsweetened nondairy milk with about a tbsp. of corn starch or potato starch - I used enerG egg replacer, which is mostly potato starch. Mix regularly while you're doing this, so the starch stays suspended in the liquid.
2. In a second bowl, I mixed a half cup of all-purpose flour with about a tsp. of salt, and generous sprinkles of black pepper, dried thyme, oregano, and sage.
3. With your fingers or tongs, carefully dip a blossom first in flour mixture, shaking off extra flour after removal. Then immerse the blossom in the starch/liquid mixture. Finally, dip the moistened blossom back in the flower mixture, coat completely, and again lightly shake off excess flour.
4. Almost there! I fried each blossom for about five minutes, in preheated oil on the stove top. I used a combination of peanut and olive oil, which may sound weird. My unscientific thinking is that peanut oil takes a long time to start smoking, and olive oil tastes really good, so I went for the best of both worlds. A deep frier would be handy, but I used my cast iron fry pan.
There you go. I thought of eating these with some kind of dipping sauce, but they tasted way too good to mess around with making a sauce.