On almost every trip to the mercados or grocery stores here in Mexico, I find myself admiring the flores de calabaza, a.k.a. squash blossoms. Not being a fan of actual squash, I consider these guys by far the best thing to emerge from the squash family:
I never got around to actually buying them due to a lack of brilliant recipe ideas. The flores de calabaza are beautiful, but I’ve tried them in a couple soups at restaurants where they didn’t do much for me… But then, somehow I caught wind of the phrase Flores de Calabaza Rellenas de Queso (stuffed w/cheese). This sounded much more promising. I bought a bunch of flowers 6 months ago with hot plans to research this, but learned the hard way that the flowers should really be used within a few days after purchase. (i.e. when stored in a plastic bag in the crisper for a week, they turn into arse.)
Then a few months back, while trying to find something I liked on the menu at Villa Maria (traditional Mexican restaurant in Polanco that is popular with locals & tourists alike; great atmosphere but the food often leaves you wanting), I spotted “Crujiente flor de calabaza alegría tropical” which was described as being filled with a cheese mousse. Sold. This dish was quickly added to my list of “The Only Thing I Like to Eat When We Take Tourists to villa Maria”, as well as to my “Must Learn to Make” notes-to-self.
Finally last nite, I was inspired to give the cheese-stuffed squash blossoms a shot. To get in the Mexico cooking spirit, I decided to use a recipe off a video from some kind of morning show on Mexican TV. (If you don’t want to watch the slightly-annoying male host dance in place, you can find the ingredients listed here sans-video, but they got a couple of the Tablespoon/teaspoon labels wrong.)
Our first flores de calabaza endeavor was quite a success, as verified by a few neighbors we called over to avoid eating 12 cheese nuggets by ourselves… I would definitely make them again as an app for a dinner party… though they are perhaps a little too futzy for your average Monday night.
Below you can find the recipe I used in English. In the future I might try a recipe like this that has more of a batter coating vs. breadcrumbs, but I like keeping the breading pretty light/minimal. I may also have to test out this tasty-looking quesadilla recipe with my new squash blossom friends!
Flores de Calabaza Rellenas de Queso (Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms)
- 12 squash blossoms, rinsed & dried (can remove stamen if you want, but not critical)
- 100 grams (~1/2 cup) goat cheese (recipe calls for queso fresco, but I like the stronger flavor of goat cheese)
- 80 grams (~1/2 cup) cream cheese
- 1 Tablespoon green onion, minced
- 1/2 Tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon epazote, minced (if you can’t find epazote, substitute some oregano or coriander or leave it out entirely)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 4 egg whites
- 100 grams (~1/2 cup) bread crumbs
- ~2 cups vegetable oil for frying
- I ignored the 150 grams of chopped mushrooms ingredient, but add it if you wish!
- Mix the two cheeses together along with the green onion
- Sauté the garlic & epazote together in the butter for a few minutes; let cool briefly & mix into cheeses.
- Put the cheese filling into a small plastic sandwich bag, and cut off one of the corners to use it as a pastry bag.
- Fill the blossom with the cheese mixture, and wrap the petals around the cheese on the open end.
- Roll the filled blossom in flour, then in egg whites, then in bread crumbs.
- Fry briefly in the hot oil, turning it, just until golden brown.
- Serve immediately while still hot!
Notes– a candy thermometer would be nice to maintain a hot oil temp of ~375F, so it doesn’t burn the breading. Also, I think a process of: egg -> flour -> egg -> bread crumbs might be more effective than the recipe’s directions of flour -> egg -> bread crumbs.
Anyone out there have any other flor de calabaza recipes worth a try??