One of the things I miss most about Boston were my solitary trips into Chinatown. I loved picking up a piece of produce or package that was a complete mystery to me (most labeling was in Chinese), bringing it home and figuring out what it was and how to use it.
Now that we are in LA, those trips have been replaced with Saturday visits with Jeff to Torrance City Farmers Market, a pleasantly monstrous expanse of fresh fruit and vegetables, baked goods, a few prepared food vendors and a vast array of plants and flowers. Everything is fresh and cheap—we typically leave with enough produce for the week for less than 15 dollars.
As we were leaving the Farmers Market last weekend, I spotted a booth with several boxes lined head to toe with hundreds of zucchini blossoms. I gathered about 12 of the blossoms, which had deep green thick stems and were topped fiery orange petals, for about a dollar. Like most new-to-me produce, I was excited to buy it, but had no idea what to do with it once I brought it home. Taking inspiration from Cadry over at Cadry’s Kitchen, I decided to stuff and batter these, although there are lots of ways to prepare and eat them.
Once slathered in an IPA-kissed beer batter, these stuffed blossoms fried to perfection in minutes. The stems were crisp while the blossoms themselves were satiny, and every bite paired perfectly with fresh basil, creamy cashews and tangy marinara on the side.
CASHEW-BASIL STUFFED AND BEER-BATTERED ZUCCHINI BLOSSOMS
Yield 8-10 blossoms
for the basil-cashew cheese
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water overnight and drained
- 1/2 cup almond milk, whisked with 1 tsp coconut vinegar
- 10 large basil leaves
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- a few dashes of salt and pepper
for the batter
- 3/4 cup AP flour
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup beer (I use a strong IPA)
grapeseed oil, for fryingmarinara sauce, for serving
1. Puree all of the basil-cashew cheese ingredients together. Set aside.
2. Combine all of the batter ingredients together except for the beer. Make a well in the center, then slowly pour the beer in. Gently mix until smooth, taking care not to overmix. Set aside for about 10 minutes.
3. To stuff the zucchini blossoms, carefully open up the blossom. Remove the pistil from inside, then spoon some of the cheese mixture inside, about 2 tablespoons. Bring the petals back together and gently twist to seal.
4. Pour several inches of oil into a heavy, flat-bottomed Dutch oven. Heat over medium-high heat. After about 7 minutes, test the oil. There are three ways to do this:
- Insert a wooden spoon into the oil so it touches the bottom. If bubbles form around the spoon immediately, you are ready to fry.
- Throw a pinch of batter into the oil. If it poofs up immediately, you are ready to fry.
- Insert a thermometer into the oil. You are ready to fry once the oil reaches 350 degrees.
5. Once your oil is ready, dip one of the stuffed blossoms into the batter. Make sure it’s evenly coated, then transfer to the hot oil. Allow to fry in batches of only one or two at a time, until they are golden brown all over. Transfer to a paper towel and sprinkle immediately with salt.
6. Repeat with the remaining blossoms, then serve immediately with marinara sauce.