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The Kitchen Coach

Eat your zucchini blossoms

Rebecca Wood —

If your zucchini plants are churning out more squash than — you could possibly eat, here's an easy solution: Eat the blossoms. These — sunny orange blooms are mildly flavored and limp as silk. While all Cucurbita, — or gourd family, flowers are edible, it's the large squash blossoms with — a respected culinary history in both Native American and European cuisine. —

Squash blossoms are tasty when stuffed with savory morsels — and saut?ed, baked or batter coated and deep fried. Or, slice and liberally — strew them in a salad or as a garnish for their spectacular golden color.

Does harvesting squash blossoms mean an end to the fruit? — Nope, we can both have our blossoms and control the number of zucchini, — too. Squash flowers are either male or female. When gathering their blossoms, — pick only some male flowers, leaving a few on each plant for a bee or — bug to climb into, get pollen besmeared, and then spread the stuff to — a neighboring female. Leave on the plant only as many female blossoms — as you wish to mature.

How to tell the boys from the girls? It's easy. The male — blossoms are narrow-stemmed, while the female blossoms attach to the stem — with a large bulge that is, in fact, the nascent squash.

You may find squash blossoms in growers' or specialty — markets in late summer and early fall. Select fresh blossoms with closed — buds. Their cost per-pound is high, but don't let that put you off, as — a dozen blossoms weigh only an ounce or two. If the blossoms are more — than a few hours old, pinch out and remove the central stamen because — it becomes slimy.

Summer squash - be it zucchini, crock neck, yellow or — patty pan - are a welcome summer vegetable up to the first frost. Tender — fleshed and brightly colored, they are charmingly flavorful when small — and garden fresh. Their flavor rapidly diminishes as their size and/or — time past harvest increases. Mentally compare the bland flavor of an out-of-season — zucchini to its bright taste when garden fresh. I feast on zucchini and — their blossoms in the summer, and in cold seasons I enjoy winter squash — when it's at its peak.

Zucchini Blossoms Stuffed with Sun Dried Tomatoes

Squash blossoms as a garnish add mostly eye appeal however — stuffed and lightly pan fried they are surprisingly flavorful and have — a pleasant, moist texture. I use a chopped tortilla to absorb the rich — juices of the mushrooms and lend a meaty texture; however, you may substitute — bread crumbs or a cooked grain like rice or quinoa.

— — — — — — 2 tablespoons oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained — and chopped

— 1 finely chopped tortilla (or 1/2 cup bread crumbs — or cooked quinoa or rice)

— — —

Heat — tablespoon of the oil in a saut? pan, add and lightly — saut? the coriander, turmeric and garlic for — to 2 minutes or until aromatic. — Add and saut? the mushrooms for — to 5 minute or until they soften. Add — and saut? the tomatoes and tortilla for — minutes or until warmed through. — Add cilantro and salt and pepper and cook an additional minute. Allow — filling to cool until warm.

Loosely stuff each squash blossom with the filling. Twist — the petals closed to contain the filling. Heat remaining oil in a saut? — pan. Add the stuffed blossoms and lightly fry, gently turning once or — twice as desired. Serve hot or cold as an appetizer or as side dish. Makes — 16.

Local author Rebecca Wood is a Personal Chef and offers — individual Kitchen Coaching. Her book, "The Splendid Grain," won both — Julia Child and James Beard Cookbook awards. You may reach Rebecca or — visit her many recipes and articles, at www.rwood.com.