Squash blossoms sure look lovely when they show up in the farmers market each summer, but what the heck do you do them? We asked Oyamel executive chef Joe Raffa for help—his kitchen will be going through more than 10,000 of the edible flowers for its annual Squash Blossom festival, which runs Monday, July 26, through Sunday, August 8. The blossoms, highly prized in Mexican cooking, will be showcased in several dishes, including salads, tamales, cocktails and desserts. In the video below, Raffa demonstrates how to make goat-cheese-stuffed squash blossoms with Veracruz sauce. The recipe calls for epazote, a pungent herb often used in Mexican cooking. Look for it in Latin markets, but if you can’t find it, substitute cilantro.
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Flores de Calabaza con Queso de Cabra
Prepare the Veracruz sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups yellow onion, sliced
¼ cup minced garlic
1 cup white pearl onions
3 pounds very ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup capers
½ cup kalamata olives, halved
½ cup green olives, halved
½ bunch fresh oregano, chopped
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon sugar
½ bunch thyme
1 ounce butter
Salt and black pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the yellow onions and cook until they’re translucent. Add the garlic and the pearl onions, and continue cooking over medium-low heat until the pearl onions are tender. Add the chopped tomatoes, capers, olives, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, and sugar and combine thoroughly. Continue simmering for about 45 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and stir in butter until completely melted. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Set aside.
Prepare the squash blossoms:
1 pound goat cheese; Raffa uses Westfield Farm
2 japaleños, seeded and deveined
½ cup epazote leaves
12 squash blossoms
Salt to taste
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Gently rinse the squash blossoms in a bowl of cold water and lightly pat dry with a paper towel and set aside. Combine 1⁄3 cup of the goat cheese, all the jalapeños, and the epazote in a food processor and purée until smooth. Transfer the purée to a mixing bowl and, using your hands, thoroughly mix in the remaining goat cheese. Season to taste with salt.
Separate the goat-cheese mixture into 12 equal pieces. Using your hands, roll the pieces into logs about 2 inches long. (If you have a piping bag, you can use that to fill the blossoms. Alternately, use a large Zip loc bag, push the filling into one corner of the bag, and cut off a tiny bit of the tip to make a piping bag.) Gently pry open a squash blossom by pulling back on one of the petals and place (or pipe) a cheese log inside. Lightly pinch the petals closed around the cheese. Repeat with remaining squash blossoms.
Place the stuffed squash blossoms on a baking sheet and heat in the oven for no more than 5 minutes. The cheese should be warmed through, and the squash blossoms should soften but not brown.
To finish, divide the Veracruz sauce between four plates, top each with 3 squash blossoms, and drizzle with olive oil.
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