Squash blossoms are delicate and ethereal, yet somehow sturdy enough to stand up to a good frying. They're delicious other ways, too, as in this
fresh vegetable stew from Mexico, full of flores de calabaza
, chiles and herbs. You'll find them fried all over Italy where they're known as fiori di zucca
, always battered and sometimes stuffed. One classic version calls for a stuffing of anchovy filets and mozzarella, but mine—herb-flecked goat cheese—is lighter and feels a bit more in tune with these days of Indian summer. Like most fried foods, they're best served fresh from the oil, so they're really not the thing for a big party. But it's lots of fun to fry up a dozen or two for a group of friends gathered in the kitchen, sipping prosecco or rosé and singing the chef's praises. I can't remember where I learned to use masa harina for these, but I'm always on the lookout for gluten-free substitutes for wheat flour. As with my fried calamari
, rice flour would probably work well, though the understated corn flavor of the masa harina
really does seem to complement the subtle, sweetly vegetal note of the squash blossoms. By the way, zucchini flowers are said to be better than those of yellow squash, which can get slightly bitter. Choose the freshest, perkiest ones you can find. They need to be slightly open. Too tight and the fragile petals will tear as you attempt to pipe in the filling. Ain't that always the way?