Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cashew Ricotta Stuffed, Almond Crusted Fried Squash Blossoms (Vegan, Grain & Dairy Free)




Oh, the wondrous blossoms of summer....I so love their scent, their color, their texture and YES, even their taste! Especially the squash blossom. If you have never tried one, now is the time, while they are in full bloom. They can be eaten raw, baked, sauteed or fried. 

Don't worry, you can have your blossoms and eat your zucchini too! One additional thing to keep in mind before you start plucking: Squash blossoms have a pretty short shelf-life so you want to plan on using them very soon after the picking. However, I have successfully kept mine for up to two days in an airtight container on a paper towel in the fridge.

So, if you have a garden, just pick a few and try it out. Or, perhaps ask a friend if you can try a few of theirs. Sometimes you can even find them at your local farmers market. To help you know which ones to pick and the 'how to', check out THIS short but informative article. 

For this post, I have chosen to stuff and fry these beautiful little things! (One of the most beloved ways to prepare these delicate yellow blossoms.) I filled them with a non-dairy fermented cashew 'cream cheese' with chives and coated them in almond flour before pan frying them! They are a bit reminiscent of a crab rangoons (recipe for that coming soon too) and an absolute treat!

Stuffed squash blossoms make an excellent appetizer and will definitely impress your summer guests! So get ready to enjoy the blossoms of summer in a new and bold way....grain and dairy free of course! (if you are a dairy eater, feel free to try ricotta or dairy cream cheese in this recipe)



Cashew Ricotta Stuffed Fried Squash Blossoms
(Vegan, Grain & Dairy Free) G
luten Free, Paleo, GAPS, Vegetarian
Ingredients:

6-8 Bloomed (or even partially bloomed) squash flowers
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
1/2 cup cashew cream cheese (see below*)
1 cup finely ground almond flour, more if needed
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper, or to taste
Optional: try adding dried Italian spices, to taste
1 large egg + 1/2 tablespoon water(well beaten) or 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk (VEGAN alternative)
1/4 or more of oil for light frying (depending on size of pan). I used coconut oil.


Gently rinse the squash blossoms and pat dry. I like to leave a tiny bit of stem on the flower to grab it with, but you can trim more if you like. Now, carefully spread the petals and gently remove the 'pistil' from each flower.

In a bowl, combine the cashew cream cheese, chives and a pinch of salt.

Use a pastry bag with small enough tip to fit in the opening of the flower (or just carefully fill the blossom with a small spoon. Fill it about 1/2 to 3/4 full, leaving enough room to twist the top shut. 

If the flower is torn some, don't worry, most of the time it is still usable. Just fill the flower as much as you can, twist it shut in a direction that will help close the gap where the tear is and twist it shut. The egg dip and almond flour coating will do the rest of the work to close it up. Put a little extra coating on the torn side.

In a small bowl, beat together the egg and the water or measure out the coconut milk. In another bowl combine the almond flour, salt, pepper and optional herbs to taste.

Lightly dip each flower in the almond flour mixture (this helps the egg/coconut wash to stick better). Take care to keep the torn flowers twisted shut while dipping and coating. I like to keep hold of the of stem and the the top of the flower, helping it stay twisted shut.

Next, dip each flower in the egg/coconut milk wash, than roll/coat them in the almond flour mixture. 

Preheat the oil in a frying pan over medium-medium high heat. I test my oil by adding a little egg soaked almond flour to the oil. It should puff up a bit right away, turn whitish, and then golden brown pretty quickly. Try not to let the oil get too hot though, as almond flour burns easily.

Gently add the 'breaded' squash flowers to the oil, frying on each side till golden brown and crispy. This will not take long....maybe a minute on each side, depending on the temperature of the oil.

Remove the blossoms from the oil with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel. Sprinkle with a little more salt and ENJOY!


For the cashew cream cheese: Make one day ahead of time.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup raw cashews
1 cup warm not hot filtered water
1-3 pro biotic capsules, at least 10 billion organisms


In a blender, add 1 1/4 cups of the raw cashews, the water and the pro biotic powder. Blend until VERY smooth. Depending on your blender, it could take 3-4 minutes. It will start out really runny and thicken some as it blends. At the leftover 1/4 cup a little at a time, but stop if the mixture gets to thick to turn through the blender. Stop the blender as need to stir the mixture.

Transfer the cashew mixture to a clean bowl and cover. Place in an oven, warmed by the oven light only or in a yogurt maker/dehydrator. Allow to 'culture' at least 14-16 hours for the best flavor. I like to put mine in before bed and leave it there till lunch time the next day.

Transfer to an air tight container than chill. Keeps about 3-4 days in the fridge. Use leftover cheese for making dressings, dips, in smoothies and more!



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