Squash blossoms are the ultimate in edible flowers. Unlike nasturtiums, borage, violets and other pretty posies consigned largely to salad and ice cube duty, squash blossoms can be stir-fried, frittata-ed, casseroled, gratineed and, most notably, stuffed. If you have loads of blossom knock yourself out with a risotto or casserole, where they will add a pretty and uber-seasonal note to each dish. However, if you have but a few precious farmer’s market blooms, the vote always has to be for stuffed. Plated up in their crunchy panko summer coats these little morsels shine on their own with a chilled glass of white wine, whispering “it’s summer.”
Even if you have never encountered a stuffed squash blossom you can tell just by looking at one that it is meant to be filled with something a bit decadent. Like bright deflated balloons that just happened to float into the garden, these bulbous blooms are an incredible bonus to an already exceedingly useful plant, the Cucurbita pepo. Whether the typical green courgette/zucchini commonly grown here in the UK, or the slender saffron curves of the crookneck squash of my Florida youth, all varieties of summer squash produce these golden edible sacs.
The usual stuffing is ricotta, and I see no reason to deviate. The delicacy of this fragile flower invites smooth mild fillings and I can think of nothing more suitable than this creamy Italian soft cheese.
As for subtle but stand-out flavours, I was inspired by the citrus-sour buckler leaf sorrel/sheep’s sorrel growing happily after a sudden ‘haircut’ earlier in the month (for its own good), as well as the ever-present lemon mint and spearmint lining the path to the hen house (sadly defunct). Lemon zest provided the third citrus tang to lift the ricotta.
Where I deviate substantially from the traditional stuffed squash blossom is by baking rather than frying. Frying is of course superb. I tried it this way, delicately crunchy and oozing with cheese, at a small cafe in Lucca (link is to a 2012 holiday post, with a chard and prawn pizza recipe). And it was indeed delicious, as all things are in their country of origin, especially in the company of a tall flute of Prosecco. 🙂
Back home, with waistbands to consider, baking is the way to go. Believe me, it is no compromise to bake rather than fry as both ways with squash blossoms are more-ishly crispy and good. Especially with Prosecco.
That is three times I have mentioned booze in this post. Does someone need a holiday??
Well yes, don’t mind if I do. Actually, I am sending this post to you from Dubrovnik. As you read this, the Food To Glow family are currently eating our collective body weights in fish and various delicacies I have no hope of being able to pronounce. There may even be wine.
For information on how to pick, select, store and use squash blossoms, Gardening Know How has some tips for you. I should have read this earlier as I had left my kindly-given blossoms (thank you Kathy and Warwick) languishing too long before using. Don’t do this; I had to throw out quite a few. Pick and eat on the same day if possible.
Over to you! What healthy summer nibbles have you been cooking up?
Leave a comment and share your ideas and recipe links.
Panko-crusted Baked Squash Blossoms with Garden Herb Ricotta
Baked, not fried, is the key to getting healthy, crunchy squash blossom bites. The herby add-ins are up to you, but my sorrel and mint are great just now and work so well together – zesty and fresh.
Gluten-free? Try crushed almonds or other nuts.
Vegan? Try this tofu-ricotta recipe from Whole Foods Market
12 fresh courgette/squash/zucchini blossoms, brushed
1 cup fresh ricotta or vegan substitute
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh sorrel OR parsley
zest ½ small unwaxed lemon
Freshly ground pepper and pinch of salt (depends on your ricotta)
1 egg, lightly beaten OR vegan egg replacer mixed up as one whole egg – pour in a shallow bowl
1 cup panko crumbs OR ¾ c dry breadcrumbs – place in a shallow bowl
Oil spray or a little oil for brushing
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking tray with foil or parchment and lightly coat with oil or use oil spray. Set aside.
2. Stir together the stuffing ingredients, seasoning to taste after mixing. Spoon this into either a small piping bag or – as I did – into a small plastic sandwich bag with a corner cut off.
3. To stuff the blossoms, take one flower and carefully make a vertical slit from the base – about 1 ½ inches long. Reach in and tweak off the stamen. Now take the bag of herbed ricotta and squish in some filling, twisting the flower at the end to hold it in.
4. Dip the blossom in the egg and then into the panko, covering well. Place on the lined and oiled tray.
5. Repeat with the remaining blossoms and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, watching after 10 minutes in case your oven is a little faster than mine. They should be lightly browned and crunchy.
Eat immediately. Lovely as a pre-dinner nibble with drinks and olives.
Other tasty nibbles here on Food To Glow:
Marinara-Stuffed Baked Arancini (another fun snack that is usually fried)
Asparagus, Shiitake and Roquefort Pastries
Spicy Cauliflower-Cashew Bites with Buffalo Sauce
Crispy Fennel Seed Flatbread Crackers (with pretty Icelandic salt!)
Plus loads more in my Index.
75 thoughts on “Panko-Crusted Baked Squash Blossoms with Garden Herb Ricotta”
Yum! I love that they’re not only delicious, they’re beautiful! Now I’m craving this! Such a shame that I find it so hard to buy squash blossoms…maybe I should start growing!
I’m growing them next year. Currently I get my blossoms from two very kind neighbours, but now that I no longer have chickens I can grow things that they would otherwise help themselves to. I’ve grown them in the past and they really are such easy, “plug and play” vegetables. I hope you give them a go, too.
Surely dairy causes cancer. Do you not work for cancer prevention. I am confused.
Like a lot of things that may contribute to development of cancer, any risk with dairy is what is called dose-response related. A lot *may* contribute to cancer for some people. I follow the advice of the esteemed American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund, and the large and robust studies they analyse don’t have dairy as a general risk factor for any cancer but advanced prostate cancer (because of the excess calcium, not IGF-1). It is a good idea to limit dairy, as well as meat, sugar, salt and some carbohydrates. But small amounts in a balanced plant-centred diet are thought by the majority of cancer researchers and health professionals to be of benefit. I always offer vegan alternatives in applicable recipes as some follow a vegan diet for a variety of reasons. I hope you find these alternatives acceptable and tasty.
Professor Jane Plant is of the view that dairy causes reproductive cancers.
Some of your best photography ever – I would like to reach into the page and grab one of these. Lovely healthy alternative too. Delicious
Thank you, Sally. I guess squash/zucchini season is over for you in Dubai, but maybe you can get some while you are here in the UK. Such versatile flowers. Thanks for the uplifting comment. 🙂
Totally gobsmacked… with the recipe and the images. Just wow!
Wow, Liz! Thanks so much! I hope you get a chance to try these when your summer comes around. 🙂
These look gorgeous. Such beautiful photography. I have only ever eaten squash blossoms in restaurants because I hate deep frying at home but I would love to try these. Great recipe
And you’ll see that it is really easy too! No risk of burning yourself in hot fat either. 😉 Thanks for stopping by.
My snack for today! Healthy too! So beautifully presented too, dear Kellie!
I also love that tofu ricotta! 🙂 MMMMMM!
I have never made squash blossoms at home but this looks pretty easy to do, and I love the nut coating suggestion especially. I bet a savory cashew filling could work well too. This summer I’ve been enjoying cobblers, summer squash soup (recipe forthcoming), some light summer curries and plenty of grain salads highlighting sweet and savory with melons or stone fruit. What has been your garden favorites this year? Enjoy your holiday Kellie!
Oh yes, a trusted cashew cheese filling rather than tofu-nooch would be fabulous, Katie. I haven’t done any cobblers while it has been hot but come early autumn my family will get sick of me cobblerising everything! We have had some nice soupy light curries (I love making pho too) and grain salads but I will stop by and see you your ideas and thoughts. My garden faves are still chard and kale, with tangy buckler leaf sorrel and close second. I will just nibble it off the plant as I pass. Thanks for commenting and leaving some ideas for other readers. 🙂 PS I will look forward to seeing what you do with your squash soup. I do a walnut,lemon thyme and squash soup but with such a lot of squash around it is always good to see new ways to go with them.
Garden chard and kale can’t be beat. Oh, I know your walnut and zucchini soup, if that’s what you’re referring to. It’s delicious! I’m taking advantage of the yellow squash’s short appearance during the summer here and putting a Southwestern spin on it. 😉
I’ll probably never make this but boy, this sounds (and looks!) absolutely mouth-watering!
Thank you for the verbal thumbs’ up. I like your ‘name’. Very cool.
And with that I’m off to raid my mother’s garden for squash blossoms! Gorgeous recipe! I love the idea of using the panko crust and baking them – the deep fryer scares me.
It scares me too. I don’t think I have ever deep fried anything. Mainly because it is unhealthy, but even before I ‘saw the light’ in my early 20s I would have been too scared to go near such hot oil. Gives me shivers just thinking what a disaster I would make of deep-frying! I hope you get to make these, and give it a Katie touch. 🙂
Absolutely stunning. I love beautiful food like this. And you have created such a lovely table scene. I must go to the market this weekend and see if squash blossoms are available.
Thanks! The daisies were picked for the kitchen windowsill but I stole a couple for the pix. I hope you find some blossoms at the market and give these a go. They are super-duper easy and mega-crunchy.
They look like such works of art, I wouldn’t want to eat them!!! (I probably would really ☺️)
;-)) You wouldn’t be able to resist. And why should you??
No reason at all!! X
I have a few in my garden at the moment and this is the way I will be eating them. There is something so fresh and light yet satisfying about this dish and the avocado soup does look good, looking forward to that recipe. Such great photos here Kellie 🙂
Lucky you! I bet you have been doing all kinds of interesting and gorgeous things with them. They do go well with the soup too. A Froothie recipe for next week, once I’ve made it one more time (quality control and all that 😉 )
Your recipes are just amazing!! This looks mouthwatering!
Awesome!!! A healthy crunchy bites 🙂 It’s in my list now… 🙂
This looks amazing, it is a great idea to bake them and I loved the recipe. Here in Mexico we cook with squash blossoms all the time. I love them in empanadas with cheese, and with poblano peppers, shrimp, corn and a touch of cream. Thank you for sharing!
Oh yum – empanadas! Do you have a recipe, Bettina? That sounds so, so good!
Hi Kellie!! Yes! Here in Mexico we buy the masa (dough) for the empandas, you can probably find it in a Mexican super market in your city and just mix it with water until it is all blended and soft (2 cups of masa with 1 1/2 to 2 cups of water). After it is ready, let it set for 20 minutes and start making flat tortillas, fill them with cheese and Squash Blossoms, fold them over and deep fry them. It is not light at all but the flavors are amazing. Let me know if you find the masa. Hope you like it! 🙂
I have masa but I’ve had it awhile and probs need to buy some more. We do have a pretty good Mexican deli that imports loads of good things. I need to do a restock soon and will get some more masa harina. I already make my own tortillas (so easy and a no-brainer when you look at the label on bought ones here in the UK) Will need to give these a go! Thanks for the impromptu recipe! I’m sure others will appreciate your share, too. 🙂
Such an enchanting recipe that not only screams summer but is a testament to the possibility of lightening up a recipe without any loss of flavor. Just fabulous!
I love a challenge, me. 🙂 And I really don’t think they lose a thing – except loads of fat. Cheers for stopping by, Deb.
We call these zucchini flowers but I love that you call them squash blossoms! What a fabulous name and one I’m adopting from now on. This looks like such a delicious recipe. Thanks for sharing it.
You are very welcome. And thank you for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it. 🙂
I have always wanted to try making these but have been put off by the deep frying – the idea of baking them instead is inspired. Thanks for the idea and your lovely recipe and photos!
By the way, we call them baby marrows or courgettes here in South Africa. 🙂
In the UK we call them courgettes too. Marrows are giant courgettes to us, although I understand they are actually different plants to most people. I am an American ex-pat so most of the time I give both words but I think of the yellow ones as squash (which are less common here) and the green ones as courgettes. I hope your winter weather has been kind to you. Thanks for your comment. I hope you get to try them this baked way once spring comes for you.
Hi Kellie – A friend who reads my blog thought I’d like yours, and she is right. What a gorgeous thing you have created, both in intent and execution. Your “amateurish” (that is funny) photographs are lovely, and your sunny Floridian influence shines through…
Thank you, Marie! I’ll admit the photos have got a little better, but still very amateurish. Which I don’t mind 🙂 Cheers for taking the time not only to stop by but to leave such a lovely comment. Can I ask who sent you, Marie?
I don’t know the name but it is so nice to know that she recommended me, Marie.Nice to meet you. 🙂
Beautiful photos! Can you believe that I have never used pankro before. I really should, as there is so much I was to try.
Such a comprehensive post Kellie. Wow! Stunning images as always and I cannot wait for the avocado soup recipe 🙂
Thanks Urvashi. The soup recipe is coming soon. I just want to tweak it a little more.
I grew my zucchini plant this year. however due to a lot of rain the leaves started to grow mold i had to get rid of it. Those look amazing. I’ll have to make them next season.
Poor you! After careful nurturing I do get attached to my plants, and doubtless you feel similarly. I hope you can have something that will grow happily over the winter months and not have to wait until spring to enjoy edible gardening.
Hope you had a ball in (err…too lazy to scroll up and find out how to spell it) your holiday destination and come back rested and replete. I discovered beer batter this week. Live will never be the same…AND it’s vegan. Now to work out how to make something so unhealthy fit into the tiny niche that I am going to allow it on Serendipity Farm 😉
I’m more of a soda water/club soda fan when it comes to bubbly batter mixes, but in the UK it is common to get beer batter fish. I know that’s not on your menu, but maybe a kind of nori-flecked beer batter tempeh perhaps? Sounds a bit wacky typing it, but I’m a bit tempted to try it! Still in Dubrovnik where it is unusually/crazily stormy. I understand it is quite benign back in Scotland. Typical!
I have been experimenting with similar type of recipes recently but mine are not half as goof as yours. Looks fab.
Good, goof, too much food.
Oh wow, these are totally awesome Kellie and I would love to try them:-)
Wowzer. These are STUNNING. I need to grow squash just so I can make these and impress my friends. I really really really need to try them. Food perfection.
What a brill comment, Kate! I’m sitting here with my legs up in the air trying to unswell them from a reaction to some antibiotics, feeling sorry for myself, and I saw your tweet and this comment pop up. Such a lovely thing to write and let me know. See if you can grab some at a market before the season is out. These can’t wait until next year for you! Thanks again. You have great timing 🙂
Those look so lovely, I’ve always wanted to try these or courgette flowers but never managed to find any – and I’m not a gardener!
Befriend a gardener and barter with some of your own creations, Sarah! I kind of do that. My neighbours would give me things anyway but I like to give them jam or baked things in return. Which they may not eat but they always kindly receive. Nice to hear from you. 🙂
Intrigued – I had never thought to bake squash blossoms! That said, I only got round to stuffing and frying them for the fist time last summer, so I am probably behind the curve 😉 LIke the idea that you can bake quite a few at a time as the frying in small batches is painfully labour intensive. (Oh – and everything goes better with prosecco!!)
I hadn’t thought about the amounts for baking versus frying, but of course you are right: you can shove two trays (about 48 blossoms!) in the oven if you like, all in one go. This feature makes them even more suitable as a party appetiser. Thanks for bringing that up. 🙂
I love stuffed courgette flowers but never see them down here in London very often. Always reminds me of holiday eating in Italy. Love you pics.
I guess maybe there isn’t the demand for them, or the window of availability is quite small. I can’t say I have actually looked up here in Edinburgh as I have neighbours who give them to me and I know others who grow their own too. In London there is perhaps less space and shadier gardens to give these a go more widely. Still, their rarity makes them even more special when you can find them. And there is always Italy….
Beautiful beautiful photos! Looks like such a delicious and unique dish!
Can’t wait to make some of your recipes…we applaud your large images. As a retired master food photographer…you a little to far above top dead center, with my vertigo I feel like I am going to fall over your dish…a little below top dead center is more comfortable if your shooting on phone or point and shoot use the telephoto feature…it will take away that feeling of the center being closer and the things on the edges feel like they are rolling off the table…just a pro view…but I am sure the photographer will not effect the taste of your food…;-)
Brian K. (bebopkaplan)
blogging on holiday- wow, I think I may get told off for that! But I think I had this post in my drafts I would be looking forward to sharing it too!
Whenever I see courgette flower recipes I always remark on how pretty they look and always carry an association with a foodie who knows their stuff. Though I also remark on how most of the recipes include ricotta and so it is refreshing (as always) to see a Kellie version of a gorgeous combination of edible wonders. I will most certainly will be trying the squash and I hope you feel like you have collected beautiful memories with your sweet and happy family (loving your recent pics). xxx
How beautiful your photos are here! Not only are squash blossoms lovely to behold, but lovely to eat and lovely for what they can do for your body: loads of calcium and iron and especially high in vitamins C and A. Not bad for such a yummy treat. The panko is a great idea by the way!
Reblogged this on Fit Gurl Go.
ahh…panko of course…how clever…will try this with my next bloom.
Reblogged this on How 2 Be Green and commented:
I made these last night and my family loved them. I’ve been frying them all summer and needed an alternative. They really hit the spot. Thanks!
I made these today with homemade cashew cheese, egg replacer (to appease the vegan hubby) and breadcrumbs from seed bread – Delicious! Thanks for the inspiration.
Thanks for posting this recipe. My wife and I used it last night to make a variation with ichimi togarashi instead of herbs, and mozzarella instead of ricotta in our akehime and kurinishiki blossoms. We dipped them in a little shoyu after baking. This baking method is waaaay better than the fried versions.