At my cooking class in Rome, I ate so much of our first course, fried squash blossoms, that I was almost too full to enjoy the rest of the meal. (Just how many squash blossoms did I eat? Well if you must know, I had three. Fine, it was more like four. And a half.) Even so, the dish was so delicious that I didn't regret my blossom binge in the least. So it should come as no surprise that the first thing I wanted to make when I returned to New York was my own version of stuffed squash blossoms. While Chef Andrea stuffed his with prosciutto and mozzarella, I decided to base my filling around some fresh local ricotta that I picked up at the Greenmarket.
To make the filling, I mixed half a cup of ricotta with two minced cloves of garlic, half a teaspoon of lemon zest, a hefty pinch of salt, and four chopped basil leaves. To prep the squash blossoms for stuffing, start by trimming their stems and removing the prickly outer leaves from the base of the blossoms. Chef Andrea said there was no need to wash the blossoms, but I still looked mine over to make sure they were free of bugs and dirt. Next, remove the pistel by opening the blossom and pinching out the bud that you see in the center, taking care not to tear the flower.
After your blossoms have been prepped, fill them with the ricotta mixture (a piping bag works well here). Do not over-stuff your blossoms or they may burst open while cooking (a lesson I learned the hard way). Once your blossoms are ready to go, it's time to prepare the batter. Chef Andrea made a beer batter by combining about two cups of all purpose flour with one ice cold, almost frozen, beer. Once the batter was smooth, he stirred in a glass of cold sparkling water (I used about a cup), a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil, and a teaspoon of sea salt. (He also suggested adding ice cubes unless the ingredients were already near freezing). Heat some oil (Chef Andrea used sunflower oil) in a heavy saucepan until it reaches 350 degrees. Dip each squash blossom in the beer batter, and then deep fry, turning once, for about 2-3 minutes a side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate until cool enough to eat.
I topped my blossoms with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of sea salt...and then I ate all four. That's right. Four deep fried squash blossoms. Again. Mine didn't turn out as well as the ones we made with Chef Andrea (I suspect that my batter was too thin, plus one exploded mid-fry) but I'm okay with that--it just means that I'll have to try again soon. And that means that there are more squash blossoms in my future.