Summer is the season that seems to be the most anticipated and the one that flies by the fastest. My garden works in the same way... everything sprouts and grows and flowers and then all of a sudden I am in a rush to make sure we enjoy it all. Radishes and lettuce first - we eat salad like rabbits. Raspberries galore, the bushes bending over from so much fruit. Beans and peas and carrots, oh my! Decadence comes in the form of cukes and tomatoes. And then, just when you think you might have a handle on things, yikes! Where the heck did that football-sized zucchini come from?!
I have spoken before of my adventures with squash. I have a great relationship with the squash fairy - that creature that leaves fresh squash of all kinds and colours on people's porches or office desks. I have numerous variations on the zucchini bread recipe to use and share. I've used them as table props for buffet functions, then allowing them to be modest hostess gifts left behind. But perhaps the best way to combat the torrential harvest is to go "Old World" style - beat the plant to the punch by eating the blossoms like the Italians do!
My Mom and Dad made a trip to Italy years ago, and one of the things they raved about was "Fiore di Zucca", the fried squash blossoms that are traditional in the region. Fresh blossoms are dipped in a batter and then fried. If you want a more elaborate approach, try stuffing them. Either way, it tastes like you just captured summer in the palm of your hand and coated it in bread crumbs.
My Mom and I trolled the plants I have meandering at the back of the garden and we managed to find just enough blossoms to make an appetizer for dinner (look for the ones that have just opened or are just about to open.) I am usually a recipe devotée but this time we "winged it". A bit of beaten egg to dip them in, and some panko crumbs for coating. We stuffed them with ricotta cheese, lemon zest and herbs from the garden. Mom mixed the filling, then added a bit of something else to make it sing (pour yourself some wine and you will be likely inspired). She spooned in the filling and said on the last one, " I seem to recall you have a pastry bag". (There's my tip for you.) I put some grapeseed oil in a pan and we gently lowered our lovely treasures in to brown. Once done, a wee drain on some paper and then a bit more wine. It was ambrosia.
The heat wave has broken, and soon the kids will be back to school. As much as I hate to admit it, summer is almost over. The squash blossoms we had last night were a really nice way to have a bit of a send-off to that season that is never quite long enough.
As the Italians say, "Salute!"
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