When I theorized what it would be like to actually execute this project, I had a couple of recipes I kept at the top of my mind that would make it all worth it – one of those being Sookie’s “famous” fried stuffed squash blossoms.
I don’t know what it is about the idea of eating cheese-stuffed flowers but I’ve always imagined it to be the height of luxury. They sound so unique, and from the fact that people “came from all over to demand [them]” at the Independence Inn meant they must have taken some excellent skill to make. After searching and emailing every grocery store, farmer’s market and specialty store within a reasonable driving distance of my house it became abundantly clear that just the scarcity of squash blossoms alone are a major part of what makes them so renowned.
If you’ve been following along for a while now you know that in the end I had to put this recipe on the backburner until I found an alternative way to acquire the blossoms… I was not about to make fried stuffed squash tushes! Plus those could end up being even harder to find. 😉
I had even resorted to planting my own zucchini seeds solely to harvest the blossoms! However, since my quarantine garden has yet to produce anything more than a long bundle of vines, I seriously hit the jackpot when I met my parent’s neighbor… let’s just call her a gardening goddess!! Her backyard is filled with all kinds of beautiful fruits and veggies. From the looks of it you would have never known it was a skill she had also recently picked up. (It seriously puts my little window garden to shame!)
She solved my squash blossom dilemma by graciously allowing me to use a batch of blossoms fresh from her garden, and offered to plant anything else that I might need for future Gourmet Gilmore recipes… I have my own Jackson you guys!!! Minus the quirky genetically-modified produce.
For my first time making these, I was pleasantly surprised by how simple the process actually was. The most challenging parts were not tearing the petals while stuffing the blossom, and keeping the oil at the right temperature so I didn’t burn the batter. It’s always exciting to try something new and have it turn out amazing… that means the more you improve your technique, the more delicious they’ll get!
In all honesty, I could eat the ricotta cheese stuffing with a spoon, so I definitely had that going for me already. I made a basic mix of ricotta, mozzarella, freshly grated parmesan and some fresh herbs including basil, rosemary and parsley. Add an egg yolk, some salt and pepper with a dash of paprika and you can’t go wrong!
I used the tutorial (including the batter recipe) from this video here.
Many of the other recipes I researched skip the blanching step, but despite having to be extra delicate stuffing the flowers, I found that this method gave me more of the elongated petal look that slightly twisted off at the top to keep the cheese in. He also leaves the pistles in, which seems to be a matter of preference either way. I had already eaten about three blossoms before finding that out. Luckily, they don’t seem to be harmful.
I 100% recommend trying these out if you can find them! They’re worth traveling to try. They go great with a tomato dipping sauce, or just by themselves. Let me know where you find your squash blossoms in the comments below!!
Sookie’s Famous Fried Stuffed Squash Blossoms
12 fresh squash blossom stems
15 oz ricotta cheese
¼ c mozzarella
⅛ c parmesan, freshly grated
1 tsp basil, freshly chopped
1 tsp rosemary, freshly chopped
1 tbsp parsley, freshly chopped
Zest of ½ a lemon
½ tsp salt and pepper (each)
Dash of paprika
½ cornstarch, plus additional for dusting blossoms
1 c flour
Water, a tablespoon at a time until thickened.
Dash of salt, pepper and paprika
Canola oil for frying
Blanch the blossoms in boiling water for 30 seconds, and then transfer to an ice bath until chilled. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. See video from Food Wishes for reference. While the blossoms are drying, mix together the cheeses, herbs, egg yolk and spices until combined. Fill a piping bag or plastic bag with the corner cut off with the cheese mixture and fill the blossoms by carefully unfolding each petal until you can see the open base of the flower. You can remove the pestle if desired. Pipe the filling into the cheese until it reaches where the petals begin to separate from the base. Twist off the tops of the petals, securing the cheese inside the flowers. Set aside.
Fill a cast iron or non-stick skillet with an inch to inch and a half of canola oil. Preheat the oil to 350 degrees. Mix the batter ingredients together, adding the water a little at a time until it resembles a smooth pancake batter. Sprinkle a little cornstarch over the filled blossoms and then coat each one in the batter. Be sure to not coat too heavily by shaking off any excess batter. Fry each blossom in the oil for about 1-2 minutes per side until golden and crispy. Let cool on a plate before enjoying!