The triple-digit heat that struck this week taxes the acres upon acres (more than 40 of them) that we cultivate for vegetables, and we irrigate like mad to keep them healthy and happy. At the same time, the heat also speeds-up the ripening of treasured plants like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. The harvest kick-off for those gems remains on the near horizon, but this week, a touch earlier than normal, we have squash — and squash blossoms. Patty Pan. Yellow Crookneck. Scallop. Zucchini. We love the names — so vivid! And we of course use them with abandon in the kitchens, including the one in our farmhouse.
We have plenty of summer squash recipes, and we will include some during the summer in this newsletter. But we want to lead with squash blossoms, because we receive lots of queries at the farmers’ market about how to cook them.
Before we tackle the subject of stuffing them, don’t forget that squash blossoms also turn into a fabulous pasta sauce. Sauteed with other ingredients, like onion, carrot and celery, they add an almost saffron touch of bitter to the dish. In addition, don’t hesitate to chiffonade (basically, shred) the blossoms over a dish, in the manner of parsley or any other herb that you add to just-finished dishes. The blossoms punch-up the dish with gorgeous color, and add that subtle bitter flavor to the dish.
And squash blossom quesadillas are a common dish in Mexico, where the tortillas get briefly toasted in a skillet, salty Mexican cheese gets sprinkled over one half of the tortilla, squash blossoms and diced onions are scattered over the cheese, the tortilla gets folded and griddled until the cheese melts. Ambrosia.
But the classic preparation is stuffed, and for good reason. It is fabulous, and simple. Don’t shrink from the “stuffed” thing! Filling squash blossoms with edible goodness is a cinch.
Stuffed Squash Blossoms
- 8 ounces ricotta
- 2 ounces mozzarella
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil
- 10 squash blossoms, stamens removed
- 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup olive oil
Mix ricotta, mozzarella and basil, and season with salt. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag or a plastic bag with a cut tip. Hold the blossoms in one hand and pipe the cheese mixture into each blossom opening. Spread breadcrumbs on a plate, and beat eggs is a shallow bowl. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Dip blossoms in egg, then breadcrumbs. Cook, turning once, until golden — anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes total. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.
You will find those blossoms at the Market on Saturday, as well as an enormous range of other vegetables just-plucked from our fields.
And as always, the vegetable splendor we harvest from the fields finds its way onto plates at Black Cat Bistro and Bramble & Hare. This week at Black Cat, our tasting menu includes aromatic merguez sausage from our Tunis lambs adorned with baby summer squashes and blossoms. It’s one of our favorite dishes, and we only serve it for as long as we have squash blossoms from our fields.
The dish pairs wonderfully with Clos Signadore `A Mandria,’ from the Patrimonio AOC on the French island of Corsica. The wine is made from a grape called Nielucciu, a close cousin of Sangiovese. The delicate cherry flavor of this gorgeous, food-enhancing wine perfectly complements the combination of lamb and squash.
Interested in learning more about how the seasons unfold at Black Cat Farm? Colorado’s great 5280 magazine ran a piece in the July issue offering vivid glimpses of our farm and restaurant life through the seasons. We love the piece, and believe you, too, will enjoy the journalists’ fine work. Read it here
At The Market
Head to our prepared foods stand for:
- The world’s greatest breakfast sandwich
- Pork burgers on The Med bakery bread (you will crave)
- Lamb gyros (you will swoon)
- Pork loin plate with baba ganoush, roasted turnips, sautéed greens, cilantro creme fraiche and chimichurri (you could weep with pleasure)
Head to our produce stand for:
- Summer squash
- Haricot vert
- Squash blossoms
- Lettuce Mix
- Oak leaf lettuce
- Tat Soi
- Purple tat Soi
- Osaka Purple
- English Shelling Peas
- Baby Fennel
- All Pork Cuts