Monday, July 8, 2013

Squash blossoms

On our first trip to Italy we were novice travelers. Fortunately, we had an Italian buddy. I remember timing was essential as this was way back before email and cell phones. Just dialing from a pay phone in a train station was a challenge. Once we  connected, however, all was good. My buddy had a place reserved in Rimini, on the Adriatic Coast. Definitely a "vacation" on our three month backpacking trip through Europe.

It was Independence Day 1984 and we sang our  National Anthem at a bar. We shared a room which included meals for $25 a night. But I what I remember most about Rimini was the squash blossoms at lunch back at the pensione.

The little yellow flowers were stuffed with ricotta and basil, lightly battered, and gently sautéed in olive oil. Benissimo! The delicate petals and seasoned cheese melted on my taste buds.

This Spring I planted Peter Pan squash. Not sure why they call it that but you've seen them, the quarter-sized yellow star-shaped squash. July is the month they blossom and grow. A good time to try for myself preparing squash blossoms.

Early on the 4th of July, before the blossoms flowered, I cut about a half dozen blossoms with the squash attached. Gently shook off any dirt and put them in the fridge. This keeps them from wilting. Later that day I cut some fresh basil and stuffed each blossom with ricotta and basil. Mixed together a simple thin batter, like tempura, salt and pepper. In the mean time, while the olive oil was heating, I carefully dipped each flower into the batter and fried for a minute. Flipped them about for another minute, trying not to squish the squash. Squeeze a some lemon over and serve. I'll say it again, Benissimo!!

Now I know why these tasty summer squash blossoms are called Peter Pan's. With one bite, they take you to Never Neverland.

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