Squash Flower Quesadillas and a little lesson on the birds and the bees…..
The nutty, buttery, and delicate flavor of squash blossoms makes for a delicious appetizer or meal when added to some stone ground corn tortillas, cheese, and fresh herbs.
For this recipe you will need:
- 2 teaspoons of olive oil
- 1 cup of chopped onion
- 5 cloves of garlic- minced/finely chopped
- 30-40 squash blossoms
- 6-8 corn tortillas (2 per quesadilla)
- Oaxaca cheese
- jalapeños and cilantro (optional)
Squash blossoms are often eaten in Mexico and Italy. They can be used in anything from omelettes, to soups, stews and pizza. Often they are stuffed with fresh goat’s cheese, mozzarella or ricotta or dipped in a milk/egg mixture, lightly floured and fried. If you don’t have a garden, don’t despair, you can often find these at farmers markets, Latin grocery stores or specialty markets.
No school bells means more time in the garden and more time in the garden means more cooking! I set the alarm extra early today to make sure I would catch my squash blooms fully open. I had great intentions but I snoozed, and snoozed, and…well you get the picture and before I knew it it was 7:00 A.M.! I threw on my boots, put my hair in a baseball cap and I was out the door with a garden basket in hand determined to cook up some squash blossom quesadillas for dinner.
In this Texas heat, squash blossoms do not stay open very long. It is best to harvest them while the morning is still fresh and cool to avoid damaging the blooms in attempts to pry them open and prepare them.
I was careful to pick only the male blooms, leaving some for pollination. Now, y’all know I’m new to micro-farming, so when learning how to plant squash, harvest and preserve them I also learned a little about the birds and the bees, literally! Seems my bees love my squash blooms, and thanks to our bee hives here on the farm our gardens are healthy, thriving and producing…or is it reproducing? Hmmmm…
I found one of my honey bees filling his pockets with pollen :
When picking blooms, it’s a good idea to leave a few male blooms and certainly leave the females alone; they are going to be dinner soon (squash)! Don’t know the difference? No worries, neither did I a few years back. Here is a little guide:
Male flowers grow on a long narrow stem. You can also tell the two apart by looking at the reproductive organs found in the center of the flower. The female flowers contain the stigma. The female part, or stigma, generally looks like a flower in its own right. It has several “bumpy structures” that cluster around a central opening. It also has a swollen bottom called an ovule.
The male part, or the anther, are longer and thinner and the base of the bloom is not swollen, rather just attached to the stem.
Once you have picked your male blooms leaving some for pollination, it’s time to prep your blooms. You’ll want to pick a fair amount of blooms. For about 4 quesadillas you should have about 30-40 blooms. This may seem like a lot, but once cooked it really is very little.
Rinse in cool water, snip bottom off the bloom and slit down the middle to remove the anther and stem. Flatten out flowers as you go and put aside.
I will be using these later for our dinner, so in this case the best way to store them is to place the slightly dampened and prepped blossoms on a paper towel within a plastic bag, laying flat and placed in fridge till ready to cook.
I had some beekeeping and chicken chores to tend to and returned hours later from the garden with cilantro and jalapeños as well as onions and garlic from our curing table. Our onion and garlic harvest was less than hoped for due to the heavy Texas’ rains March through May that drowned many of them.
(once onions and garlic are harvested they are to be placed in a well ventilated and shaded area where they will cure for 3 weeks or more till the tops dry, after they can be kept in a cool dark area such as a basement, root cellar or in our case the baskets in the bottom of our pantry)
Chop onion, garlic, cilantro and jalapeno.
Prepare the Oaxaca cheese by slicing thin or chopping up. It melts relatively quickly and can be fun to eat when fully melted into a stringy and gooey mess.
Oaxaca cheese is white, semi-hard cheese from Mexico. It reminds me of Monterey jack with a mozzarella like string cheese texture. Its name comes from the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico where it was first made. The Dominican monks brought the string cheese process originally from Italy to Mexico. In Italy they produced mozzarella, but goat milk was unavailable so they used cow milk instead. When you remove cheese from package, you will notice the Oaxaca resembles a ball of yarn. Once pulled apart, you can see ribbons of cheese that have a striking resemblance to mozzarella string cheese.
Heat a skillet and have corn tortillas ready to go. These are fresh hand made corn tortillas my garden helper made this morning while I was out and about doing chores.
Place 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet, add onions and garlic and sauté.
Add chopped squash blossoms. Be careful not to overcook as I did. Once onion and garlic are done, turn stove off, add blossoms and toss lightly. Turning heat off and gently tossing will help keep the vibrant and beautiful color and shape.
You will find that the blossoms shrink quickly….a bit too quickly and too much in my case…
Place corn tortilla on hot griddle (comal) and fill with cheese and blossom mixture, cover with additional tortilla. Check for a golden brown and flip. Continue to cook till cheese is fully melted. Flip to avoid scorching or burning.
I personally like my corn tortillas extra brown as it brings out a nice smokey flavor.
Cut in quarters, garnish with cilantro and add jalapeño for a little extra kick! Great as an appetizer or add a side of black beans or charro/boracho beans and some avocado and you have a meal!
And of course… never, ever forget the sweet tea with fresh squeezed lime and mint from the garden, just the way I like it 🙂
Tip: Here are a couple of ways to keep leftover cilantro fresh: Place in clean cool water in a cup or glass and keep it on kitchen counter and change water daily. You may also keep in in a glass of water, place a zip plastic bag over it and zip both ends at bottom (or use a rubber band to keep encapsulate), place in fridge and change out water every few days.
Always remember your chickens ! Our brood loves our veggie scraps.
Until next time..
Keep it real & keep it local!
The Texas Chick