I have been eyeing the squash blossoms every week at the farmers market. And, as we are getting to the end of the blooming season, I was acutely aware that I needed to get them today.
I love stuffed squash blossoms, squash blossom risotto, and pasta with squash blossoms and saffron. Once they come home with me, they need to be used within a few hours, preferably for a noontime meal to have them as fresh as possible.
For today, stuffing them was the answer. Many preparations for stuffed squash blossoms call for deep-frying them in either a whipped-egg batter or a tempura-like batter, but frying isn't on my current diet. Not for a while, anyway. For me this was a fun challenge to find or create a recipe that wasn't too fattening.
Goat cheese is one of the more healthy cheeses you can get these days, fairly low in fat and full in flavor. Stuffing the blossoms with that would be delicious. So, while at the market we looked for goat cheese and stopped at a booth that bore a sign: Fresh Cheese. Sounded promising.... While they didn’t have goat cheese, we did however buy 4 ounces of homemade Rainbow Valley Farmers' fromage blanc - much like mascarpone cheese. While I had been hoping for goat cheese, this was perfect.
Then, as we were walking to the car, we passed another booth that DID have goat cheese. So I looked at the fromage blanc and thought, "I need more cheese!" I bought their plain goat cheese, but not until I had tasted their Mexican-style queso fresco and their baked ricotta. All three were excellent.
Once home, I sought recipe ideas online... I think most of us do this nowadays. We look at multiple recipes, take an idea from this one, another from that, consider what we have in the cupboards and then end up with a recipe that we call our own. That is exactly how this one came about - it is a nice combination of earthy sun-dried tomatoes, basil and cheeses, baked in a casserole until it is all bubbly and the flavors have melded.
I made these in one casserole dish but you will not see them served on the plate. Like many good dishes of the cucina povera, they aren’t pretty when scooped from the dish and put on a plate. However, the way to get around this is to place three stuffed blossoms in small oval serving dishes like the ones used for crème brulée. Place that on a larger plate with a salad on the side and it will make for a lovely presentation and perfect light meal!
3/4 ounce sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil), chopped
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup fromage blanc or mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup fresh goat cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
3-4 tablespoons milk (fat-free works fine)
12 large zucchini blossoms, stems trimmed
Using a spice grinder, small food processor or a mortar and pestle, work tomatoes and 1 teaspoon of olive oil into a paste.
Mix the cheeses, sun-dried tomato paste and basil in a medium bowl. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons milk until cheese mixture is smooth and not too thick. Place in a Ziploc storage bag and set aside.
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Use 1 more teaspoon of the olive oil to coat a small baking dish (or, as suggested above, 4 small oval dishes for individual servings). Carefully, holding one blossom, pipe the cheese filling into the cavity - about 2-3 teaspoons. Close the tops by carefully twisting the petals, as shown.
Place stuffed blossoms into the baking dish(es) and drizzle with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbling and golden brown. The cheese filling will ooze out but this makes for a lovely gratin.
Place three blossoms on each plate with some salad and sliced tomatoes.