03 August 2007
A Soup Made of Ladies
Title IX: We are female zucchinis, we demand equal rights!
I’ve been pining away for weeks now for a good squash blossom fritter. It’s one of the things I love this time of year, when everyone else is going zucchini-crazy, I’m foraging for the blossoms. Since I don’t grow my own squash, I don’t have my own blossoms to pick, and I haven’t found any at the market yet that look viable (like this). I always stuff them with a little cheese-egg mixture (Boursin cheese works well), then batter and fry them.
Dear M., who’s been hearing me go on about the squash blossoms I cannot find, sweetly brought me some squash from the market the other day. They were beautiful, but I quickly recognized they weren’t the kind I use for stuffing. Then I remembered: squash are male and female. The large male blossoms are the ones used for stuffing, while the female blossoms grow attached to the little squashes. Today’s anatomy lesson.
Here’s a tip from our farmer: start picking your zucchini as soon as possible. Picking your zucchini early will prevent the glut of baseball-bat-sized zucchini later in the season. And not only will you have fewer zucchini to deal with, but the tiny zucchini are the most flavorful, tender, and beautifully green. Small squash with their flowers still attached are often used in cooking, in Greece they might be folded whole into an omelet, or used in Mexico as a filling for quesadillas. I made simple soup that is really just a purée of baby (female) zucchinis and their flowers. It’s simple in the way that summer food can be: bursting with flavor and color. I like to call this a soup made of ladies, or a soup for ladies, but I think both sexes will enjoy it.
After making the soup, I finally got hold of those blossoms I was coveting, so I made a little composed dish: purée of (female) zucchinis topped with (male) blossom fritters. Both components are delicious on their own, but they also go together perfectly. Equality of the sexes and all.
Eeek, I know, horrible picture, but check out that oozy cheese.
Purée of Female Zucchini
Squash blossoms are both male and female, the females produce fruits, while the male do not. Whole female zucchini, with both squash and blossoms, are puréed together in this simple but wonderful summer soup. Adding a few fresh basil leaves is also a nice touch.
10-12 baby female zucchini with their blossoms still attached
2 tbl olive oil
water or stock
salt to taste
1. Slice the zucchini, discard the nubby top piece, and dice the flowers. Heat the olive oil in a wide saucepan and sauté the zucchini rounds over medium heat, until they begin the soften and have some brown spots. Add the zucchini flowers and toss just to combine. Immediately add just enough water or stock to cover the bottom of the pan by about one inch and season with salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer until everything is soft and combined, only about 3-5 minutes. Let the mixture cool slightly, then purée in a blender until smooth.
Male and Female: Purée of Zucchini Topped with Squash Blossom Fritters
Whole female squash are used in the purée, while male squash blossoms are used to make delectable fritters.
purée of female zucchini, as above
for the fritters:
4 large male squash blossoms
1/4 cup Boursin cheese
1 cup flour
1 cup very cold mineral water
oil, for deep frying
1. Prepare the zucchini purée as directed above.
2. Heat the oil in a deep pot. In a small bowl, beat together the egg and the Boursin cheese. Stuff each blossom with about a tablespoon of cheese mixture. In another bowl, combine the flour and the cold water in a few swift strokes (it’s ok if it’s lumpy). Dredge the flowers in the batter, then fry in the hot oil for a few minutes until crisp and browned. Drain fritters on paper towels.
3. Ladle the purée in four shallow bowls. Top each bowl with a squash blossom fritter, serve immediately.