Have you ever eaten squash blossoms? The thought of preparing them always seemed a little daunting to me, until a friend made some for me for a traditional Mexican quesadilla (Quesadilla de Flor de Calabazas). They’re so easy! You just roughly chop them and sauté them with onions and garlic. The flavor is lovely, like zucchini but more delicate, and perfect in a quesadilla with cheese and corn tortillas.
Finding squash blossoms for sale is another thing. They are used in Mexican and Italian cuisine, so if you have farmers markets that cater to those populations, you’ll have more luck finding them. Here they are very inexpensive. I bought about 30 blossoms for about $3 at our local farmers market. They are only available in the summer, when zucchini and summer squash are in season.
If you are a gardener who grows zucchini or other summer squash, you’ll have no problem sourcing them. Just pick the male flowers (the pollinators), not the female flowers that bear the squash. (Leave a few male flowers to do their pollinating work.) You can pretty easily tell the difference between them—the male blossoms grow closer to the base of the stem and if you peek inside they have a long stamen with pollen. The female flowers are a bit more swollen at the base, which will grow into a squash if pollinated.
Do you have a favorite way of preparing squash blossoms? If so, please let us know about it in the comments. I’m always looking for new ideas.
Squash Blossom Quesadillas Recipe
Traditionally a small sprig of epazote (a Mexican herb) is placed in each quesadilla with the squash blossoms. You can also lay a strip or two of roasted poblano chile in the quesadilla.
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 30 summer squash blossoms
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 12 white corn tortillas
- 8 ounces Oaxaca cheese (a Mexican string cheese) or Monterey jack cheese, sliced
- Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
1 Prepare the squash blossoms. Check the insides of the blossoms for bugs (especially if you've picked the squash blossoms from your garden), rinse out if you find any or if the blossoms are dusty. Otherwise there should be no need to wash. Cut away the stems. Roughly chop the blossoms, stamens and all.
2 Heat the oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté a minute more. Add the squash blossoms and toss to coat with the garlic and onions. Cook for a minute or two more, until the blossoms are just wilted. Remove from heat.
3 Heat a large cast iron pan or a large relatively stick-free skillet on medium heat. Rub a little butter in the pan (just enough to give the tortillas a little flavor). Place a corn tortilla in the pan and heat on both sides for half a minute or so, until bubbles begin to form in the tortilla. Place a slice or two of the cheese on one side of the tortilla. Top with a tablespoon or two of the squash blossom mixture. Use a spatula to fold the other side of the tortilla over the side with the cheese and squash blossoms. Press down with a spatula. Cook until the cheese has melted and the tortilla lightly browned.
While the quesadilla is cooking, if your pan is large enough, you can start heating another tortilla in the pan.
4 When the cheese has melted, remove the quesadilla from the pan and continue to make the remaining quesadillas in the same manner. To serve, cut each quesadilla into triangles and serve with salsa, chopped fresh cilantro, avocado, black beans, Mexican queso crema (or diluted sour cream)
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