Sunday, June 16, 2024

Squash blossoms: stuff them, add them to salads or put them in a quesadilla

In many countries, yellow squash blossoms are considered a springtime delicacy. Lightly battered or not, stuffed with a mild cheese, some fresh herbs and fried or baked, they can be eaten as an appetizer; their delicate squash flavor also lends itself well to almost every egg dish, particularly frittata. They’re also a pretty addition to soups and salads.

Here in Mexico, flores de calabaza (squash blossoms) are most traditionally used in quesadillas. In Oaxaca especially, they’re a standard addition to the most basic quesadilla recipe of mild-flavored Oaxacan cheese and a few of the fresh flowers, cooked inside a handmade corn tortilla and served with an array of salsas.

In Mazatlán, I can find these for four or five months a year at my local farmers market, where they’re sold in a bag of 20 or so for around 80 pesos. In the U.S. squash blossoms are usually from zucchini; here – at least in Sinaloa — they tend to be from those odd, squiggly green-and-white striped squashes called simply calabaza that I’ve never seen or heard of north of the border.

Wherever they’re from, squash blossoms are delicate and won’t last more than a day or two in the refrigerator after they’re picked. Wash them gently in a bowl of cool water and allow them to drain on paper towels, patting them a bit.

Another note: you can substitute requesón for ricotta; it’s almost exactly the same consistency and flavor. Find it fresh from a local dairy or in the deli section at the grocery store, where you can buy however much you want.

Squash blossoms are a standard addition to quesadillas in Oaxaca.
Squash blossoms are a standard addition to quesadillas in Oaxaca. bon appetit

Quesadilla de Flor de Calabaza (Squash Flower Quesadilla)

If you have a comal and know how to use it, you won’t need the directions here on how to make a quesadilla. Otherwise, read on. Use handmade corn tortillas if you can.

  • 2 Tbsp. corn or olive oil
  • ½ white onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • 2 oz. (about ½ cup) Oaxacan, Monterey Jack or other mild cheese, grated
  • 8-10 squash blossoms, stems and stamens removed
  • 4 corn tortillas

Heat oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, 10–12 minutes; season with salt. Transfer to a small bowl and wipe skillet clean.

Heat a tortilla in the same skillet or on a comal over medium-high until golden brown but not crunchy on one side, about a minute. Turn tortilla over and scatter a quarter of the cheese over half of the toasted side. Arrange 2 squash blossoms and some of the onion mixture on top of cheese and fold tortilla in half to create a half-moon. Press down on it lightly to help tortilla adhere.

Continue cooking, turning once or twice and pressing occasionally, until cheese is melted and tortilla begins to brown and crisp in spots (turn down the heat if needed), about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining ingredients. – From Bon Appetit magazine

Squash Blossom Frittata

  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 medium zucchini, rinsed and cut into 2-inch-long julienne strips (about 3 cups)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ Tbsp. fresh thyme or basil leaves, minced
  • 6-8 zucchini blossoms, pistils removed if desired

In a bowl, whisk the eggs. Add ½ cup of the Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste, and whisk again until combined well. In a 12-inch, non-stick or cast-iron skillet, sauté zucchini in 2 Tbsp. of the oil over moderately high heat, stirring until softened, Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a small bowl.

Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to skillet and cook onion and bell pepper over moderate heat, stirring until softened. Add garlic and fresh herbs and cook for 1 minute. Add zucchini and salt and pepper, pour in the egg mixture, and arrange the zucchini blossoms decoratively on top.

Preheat broiler. Meanwhile, cook the frittata on stovetop over moderate heat, without stirring, for 12-15 minutes, or until the edge is set but the center is still soft, and sprinkle remaining ½ cup Parmesan over the top. Broil frittata under the broiler about 4 inches from the heat for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and golden.

Let cool in the skillet 5 minutes, run a thin knife around the edge, and slide the frittata onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature. – From Epicurious magazine

squash blossoms

Baked Squash Blossoms with Apple, Honey & Ricotta

  • 1 lb. ricotta cheese or requesón
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 egg white
  • 12-15 squash blossoms
  • Half an apple, shredded
  • 1 whole egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water
  • 2 cups fine sugar cookie crumbs, like Marías

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine cheese, honey and egg white, and then fold in apple. Using a teaspoon, carefully stuff the squash blossoms about half full with the cheese mixture. Twist top of blossom to seal. Brush each blossom with the egg wash, then roll in the crumbs and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned and crisp. – New York Magazine

Savory Stuffed Squash Blossoms

12-15 fresh squash blossoms

1 lb. ricotta or requesón cheese

1 medium onion, chopped fine

½ cup toasted almonds, finely chopped

½ cup grated good Parmesan or asiago cheese

½ tsp. each salt and pepper

3 Tbsp. minced fresh basil

3 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley or cilantro

2 Tbsp. melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix together all ingredients except the blossoms and butter. Carefully stuff blossoms, being careful not to overfill. Arrange on cookie sheet, drizzle with melted butter and bake for 15 minutes. Serve immediately plain or drizzled with marinara sauce.

Janet Blaser of Mazatlán, Sinaloa, has been a writer, editor and storyteller her entire life, and feels fortunate to write about great food, amazing places, fascinating people and unique events. Her work has appeared in numerous travel and expat publications as well as newspapers and magazines. Her first book, Why We Left: An Anthology of American Women Expats, is available on Amazon. Contact Janet or read her blog at

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