Stuffed Squash Blossoms
Beautiful yellow squash blossoms (flor de calabasa) are delicious with a traditional filling of corn, chile and queso fresco (a mildly salty fresh cheese,) flavored with epazote, a wild herb with an unusual taste somewhere between mint and marjoram that is a distinctive addition to many Mexican recipes. These little rellenos are especially good with a spoonful of Roasted Tomato Salsa (page 000.) Makes 12 – 16 stuffed blossoms.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided use)
- ½ cup finely diced white or red onion
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced
- ½ serrano chile, minced (optional)
- 1 cup finely diced Mexican zucchini
- 1 ear white sweet corn, shucked (about ¾ cup)
- 1 Roma tomato, seeded and finely diced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh epazote or cilantro leaves
- 12 large zucchini blossoms
- 4 ounces queso fresco cut into ½ inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons crumbled cotixa cheese (optional, see Note)
In a 10-inch sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add onion, garlic and serrano chile, and sauté 1 minute, stirring. Add zucchini, corn and tomato, and sauté 2- 3 minutes, or until cooked but still firm. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and stir in epazote or cilantro, and taste for seasoning.
Clean the zucchini blossoms by removing the small green leaves beneath the flower. If there is a stem, leave it on. The pistil and stamens may be left in or removed. Clean the blossoms by swishing quickly in a bowl of cold salted water. Drain upside down for a moment, and then lay out on towels. Drain and gently pat dry.
Carefully open a slit down one side of each blossom. Place 2 cubes of queso fresco in the bottom and with a small spoon stuff each blossom with about 1 tablespoon corn filling, or as much as it can hold and without spilling out. Close the petals over the opening and press gently to firm up the filling.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Cook the blossoms gently until heated through. (Note: the queso fresco will soften, but will not melt.) Serve right away, sprinkled with the crumbled cotixa cheese.
Note: cotixa is a dry, crumbly, salty cheese, available in most Latin markets. A dry feta cheese may be substituted.
- Add 1 charred poblano chile seeded, skinned and finely diced
- Substitute chopped zucchini flowers for the diced zucchini
- Dust lightly with flour, dip in beaten egg and shallow-fry in hot oil until golden
- Substitute a mild goat cheese or jack cheese for the queso fresco
Deborah M. Schneider is the Executive Chef at SOL Restaurant in Newport Beach, Califoria. Author of Baja!Cooking on the Edge, Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta and Coming in Spring 2010: Amor y Tacos (Stewart Tabori &Chang)