Goat Cheese, Honey, & Truffle Oil Tempura Fried Squash Blossoms
You may remember last week when I ever so tactfully bragged about my regular Wednesday outings to the Santa Monica Famers Market. If you read that post, then you may also remember just how giddy I was about one of my purchases. Squash Blossoms. A seriously hard-to-find ingredient, they're practically sacred to anyone who's been so fortunate to devour one before. The bright orange, extremely delicate flowers bloom from zucchini plants and are often served stuffed with cheese and flash fried. Simply put, they're as divine as good food comes.
Okay, are you ready for the bad news? I've already told you that these beauties are difficult to find. But even worse, your chances of finding them outside of summer is nearly impossible. Unless of course, you live in the southernmost states where summer doesn't really end until November.
If you are lucky enough to live in the southern regions of the country, I suggest perusing your local farmers market and asking any vendor who sells squash or zucchini where and when you find might them. Also, if you see them on a menu at a locally owned restaurant, consider asking the server what markets the restaurant buys from.
While baking the squash blossoms with a parmesan topping was taken under consideration and throwing them in a quesadilla or pasta was given serious thought, my ahem, gut instinct told me that frying them was the way to go. I've enjoyed them stuffed with ricotta cheese and herbs before but I wanted to do something slightly different. A Dash of Les twist, if you will.
Since my food-loving best friend Megan was visiting me in California last week, I quickly accepted her help in the kitchen. Together, we created perfectly crispy squash blossoms stuffed with two combinations of ingredients I dreamed up. Some blossoms were stuffed with a mixture of ricotta and store-bought pesto while the other half were filled with goat cheese, local honey, and a truffle oil drizzle. While both concoctions were heavenly, the goat cheese, honey, and truffle oil medley definitely took the cake.
I strongly considered waiting to publish this post until next summer. Because, I mean, that would be the nice thing to do since I'm simply teasing many of you. But after creating these holy savory treats last week, I felt compelled to share.
***In hindsight, I would've used a slightly lighter batter and more of it on each blossom. Feel free to modify the batter however you see fit!
Tempura Fried Goat Cheese, Honey, and Truffle Oil Squash Blossoms
10 squash blossoms, rinsed and carefully patted dry
2 cups Tempura batter (store bought or recipe here)
1-2 cups olive oil (depending on the size of your pan)
6 ounces goat cheese
2-3 tablespoons honey (depending on taste preference)
2 teaspoons truffle oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1) In a large mixing bowl, prepare tempura batter. Follow package directions or use this recipe. Then, fill a larger mixing bowl with ice water and place the bowl of tempura batter inside to keep it chilled. Let sit for 20 minutes.
2) Take goat cheese out of fridge and let soften in a medium-sized bowl. Add the honey and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Combine well. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag or small zip-lock with a tiny end cut off.
3) Using a pastry bag, zip-lock, or a small teaspoon, carefully fill the squash blossoms with the cheese and honey mixture. Make sure you're leaving some space at the top of the blossoms. When filled, carefully twist the petals to close up the blossom. Feel free to use the cheese as a "glue" to keep them shut.
4) Fill a large pan with at least 2 inches of oil. Turn the burner on high and bring to 330 degrees (if you have a fry thermometer). After a few minutes, test the oil with some extra tempura batter. When it quickly fries up, the oil is ready.
5) In batches, fry the squash blossoms. Fry for 20 seconds on each side. Using tongs or a large straining spoon, remove the blossoms from the pan and place on a paper-towel lined plate.
6) Drizzle with truffle oil and let cool for 3 minutes.
***For the Pesto Ricotta stuffed blossoms:
Combine 1 cup ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup pesto, and 3 teaspoons salt. Then, follow the exact directions as listed above.