My mom would go nuts over squash blossoms. I think that we grew zucchini in our little garden when I was growning up, just so that we could make stuffed zucchini flowers all (mid)summer long. And as an adult, when my mom would come visit me in the summertime, she would always bring a basket full of blossoms for us to stuff and fry .... her favorite activity and her favorite way to eat them.
Every time I see a squash blossom, it reminds me of my mom. One time I remember going out to dinner with her, she was so excited that they had zucchini blossoms on the menu that she ordered the stuffed zucchini blossom appetizer as both her starter AND her main course. She loved them that much. You can tell where my love and enthusiasm for vegetables, especially the special ones, comes from.
My FAVORITE delicacy of summer are squash blossoms. For me, squash blossoms are to summer what ramps are to spring. You will never find them out of season because they are delicate and highly perishable. You cannot freeze a squash blossom, and thankfully there are no gmo-versions that make them last a million years on a shelf. You use them right away or you lose them. And once the zucchini peaks, the squash blossoms are no more (and a big sad face because we are on the other side of summer .... the side that makes me scared that the weather will be cooler soon).
Recently I posted a pic on my instagram of some squash blossoms and asked you what to make. I got lots and lots of "stuff them with cheese and fry them", which is undoubtedly delicious. But, this time around, I was looking for something different. A little healthier, but something that would still be just as delicious and something that still felt like an indulgent treat. A lovely person suggested stuffing them with rice, which is how they are typically prepared in Greece.............Yes. That was it. Some rice, some pesto, bake them in the oven. Done and delicious ..... my new favorite squash blossom preparation.
kale pesto + rice stuffed zucchini blossoms with a herbed cashew cream
This recipe might make a little extra pesto and/or rice, but that is hardly a bad thing. I used the extras in a salad for lunch but you can also save them for when you find or harvest more blossoms. Also, I made this cashew cream unintentionally without a recipe ... and didn't realize how good it would go with these blossoms, but they were delicious together. I found a recipe that was very close to what I made ----> HERE.
for the kale pesto:
1 bunch / 10 leaves / about 3 cups of kale, ribs removed + chopped
¼ cup of pine nuts, toasted
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ - ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
for the rice:
½ cup of cooked white or brown jasmine rice
10-12 zucchini blossoms, pistol removed
olive oil, salt, pepper
(opional) - bread crumbs for sprinkling
Cook the rice + make the pesto:
- Cook the rice according to your personal method, or instruction on the package.
- For the pesto, start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath and have it waiting next to the boiling water. Add the kale to the boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the kale from the boiling water and add it to the ice bath. Leave it in the ice bath for 1-2 minutes, then strain and squeeze the kale to get rid of any excess moisture.
- Place all of the ingredients for the pesto, except for the olive oil in a food processor and pulse a few times until everything is chopped. Then add in the olive oil in a slow stream until it is emulsified.
- Add a couple of spoonfuls of the pesto to the cooked rice, and stir to combine. Taste and feel free to add as much or as little pesto as you like to the rice. When your rice has the amount of pesto that you like, store any unused pesto (if there is any) in an air-tight container in the fridge for another use.
Prepare + stuff + bake the blossoms:
- Pre-heat the oven to 350º.
- Be sure you've removed the pistol by reaching inside the blossom and snapping it off.
- Gently spread open the petals. Then, using a small teaspoon, take a spoonful of the rice and carefully stuff the blossom. Twist the tops so they stay closed and lay the stuffed blossom onto a baking sheet. Do this until all of your blossoms are stuffed. You might have extra rice which you can enjoy on it's own, or save to stuff more blossoms with.
- Brush the tops of the blossoms with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and the bread crumbs (if you're using).
- Bake for about 10 minutes, and enjoy immediately.