This fall, I tried squash blossoms for the first time, and I’m already looking forward to having them next fall. Squash blossoms are the flowering part of a zucchini and summer squash. They taste like a milder version of squash, but they are beautiful in color and light in texture. Given that they are high in iron, calcium, vitamin C and A, they are great addition to any diet, especially vegetarian or vegan. Squash blossoms are in season when squashes are; from June to October. Unlike zucchini, they are very delicate so you won’t find them in grocery stores. You’ll likely have to find them in the farmer’s market, and most often they are kept in a cooler, not out in the open.
Alternatively, you can harvest them from your own garden! Just make sure to only harvest the male squash blossoms if you want to have a harvest next season. The male and the female blossoms looks very similar, except the female squash blossoms have a small, swollen embryonic base of the flower where the blossom meets the stem. If pollenated by bees, the female base will turn into a squash.
I was surprised to learn how many cultural foods utilize squash blossoms! I stuck to my personal roots and did more of an Italian inspiration. I first tried them three ways;
- I stuffed them with ricotta cheese, parmesan, and fresh basil. I then drizzled them with olive oil and cooked them form 10 minutes. Once they were done, I covered them with some homemade tomato sauce—it was like a low-carb version of a manicotti!
- I also made a squash blossom risotto, with summer squash and mushrooms.
- Finally, I tried them fresh on a salad!
Next year, I plan to try them the Mexican way in a quesadilla. Give them a try! Maybe you’ll discover new ways to use them in your dishes!
By Kelsey Hagen – Registered Dietitian (Nutritionist)