One of my greatest joys of summer in New England is eating fresh, local produce. After a long winter, I feel lucky receive such a great bounty of fruits and vegetables from farms in towns I recognize - including my own dense city - and even from our own backyards and balconies. Even though I keep learning, I don't always stagger my planting well enough to have a constant harvest all season. Right now, my own garden is in a transitional moment. My first planting of salad greens is starting to flower, and everything else is not quite ready - green tomatoes, white pea blossoms, purple eggplant flowers.
|Urban agriculture means growing in raised beds and containers.|
(Zucchini plants are center right.)
|A zucchini plant with several green buds at the base.|
|Rinse the blossoms in cold water.|
First, wash the blossoms by rinsing them carefully in cold water. Be sure to open them up and rinse the inside too, to get rid of the pollen and any critters who got caught inside when they closed up. Gently shake out the water from inside and pat dry with a paper towel.
Easy cashew cheese filling:
1/3 cup ground raw cashews (grind them yourself or use pre-ground cashew meal, like the bag I bought at Trader Joe's)
1 scallion, sliced or snipped with kitchen scissors into 1/4-in pieces (green part only)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1-3 tablespoons water
salt to taste
Fill the blossoms with about a teaspoon of cashew cheese (more or less, depending on the size of the blossom). This can be tricky, this is how I do it: hold two petals, spread apart, between the pointer and middle fingers, and the other petals between the thumb and ring finger, as in the photo, and then using a narrow butter knife or spreader to drop the filling in.
1/2 cup flour (I use whole wheat)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
salt to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon water
Mix the dry ingredients together and add the water. You may adjust the water to your preferences, but I recommend keeping it thick, at least the consistency of a good pancake batter. (Note: with this recipe, you will have excess batter, but you're sure to cover all the blossoms completely.)
Heat about a 1/4 inch of rice oil (or another oil that works well at higher temperatures) at medium-high heat for a few minutes. Meanwhile, immerse the whole stuffed blossoms into the batter, a few at a time, lift them one-by-one, and drop them into the heated oil, being careful not to splash.
Once all sides are golden brown, remove the blossoms from the pan and drain excess oil on a paper towel and serve.
I had these with cucumber-yogurt-dill salad for lunch today.