I don’t always have a recipe plan in mind before attending the Collingswood Farmers’ Market. And this past Saturday, a great conversation near the Flaim Farms stand turned into a basket of shishito peppers and two bunches of squash blossoms.
After reading up on the mild-mannered shishito pepper, it’s clear that I missed this food trend. Apparently, they even ‘had a moment’ in 2017…
Shishito peppers are typically charred or sautéed in a skillet with a small amount of olive oil and finished with flaky sea salt. You can eat the entire thin-walled pepper (except for the stem). But, before cozying up with a bowl of shishitos, be aware that one out of every ten or so is slightly more piquant.
skillet-charred shishito peppers
yield: snack for 2-4
12 shishito peppers, whole
flaky sea salt
equipment: cast-iron skillet
In a large bowl, toss the peppers with one teaspoon of olive oil. You may use more oil as needed to very lightly coat the peppers.
Heat the skillet to medium, being careful not to get it too hot. Line a plate or small pan with paper towels.
Place the peppers into the skillet and allow to blister and brown for 2-3 minutes on all sides or until softened. Remove from heat, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle generously with flaky sea salt.
variation: substitute regular sesame oil in place of olive oil, and finish with flaky sea salt and toasted sesame seeds off heat
Feel like eating some edible flowers packed with Vitamin A? Pick-up a bunch of orange squash blossoms to stuff and fry. I went Italian with my filling, but the blossoms are versatile and also used in Mexican cooking. If you don’t want to fry in the summer heat, grill up some squash blossom quesadillas. Squash blossoms are a delicacy and hard to find outside of farmers’ markets, so don’t miss out.
ricotta stuffed & beer-battered squash blossoms
yield: snack for 4-6
12 squash blossoms, freshly picked and whole
1-2 cups safflower oil
flaky sea salt
1 cup hand dipped whole milk ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 lemon, zested (juice not needed)
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon white granulated sugar, to taste
1-2 teaspoons whole milk, or as needed
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 12-ounce beer (I used Dogfish Head Namaste White)
equipment: skillet, piping bag or plastic freezer bag, digital thermometer (not necessary but helpful)
You must first remove the stamen from each blossom. (There are a few ways to achieve this, so, you do you.) Gently pierce a knife into the base of the flower and carve all the way around. Pull the stem and remove the stamen, leaving the petals intact. See photos below.
I don’t clean the flowers with water at all, but do blow on the inside to remove debris. You can gently wipe down the outside of the flower with a damp paper towel. Set aside while making the filling.
Filling: In a medium bowl, combine all filling ingredients except the whole milk. If your mixture is on the dry side and not coming together well, add the whole milk starting with 1 teaspoon. You want to achieve a thick mixture, and not runny. Taste and adjust nutmeg, salt and sugar until it tastes good to you. The ricotta filling should be lightly sweet with a hint of lemon. Scoop mixture into piping bag.
Position the tip of the piping bag into the flower base where you trimmed away the stem. Fill each flower with enough filling so that it is plump, and the filling isn’t spilling out. Set aside to make batter.
Batter: In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Whisk in beer just until combined. Line a plate or small pan with paper towels.
Fry: Heat a large stainless steel skillet with 1-2 cups safflower oil to 350-degrees. You want the oil to come up about ½ to 1-inch from the bottom. If you have a digital thermometer, clip it on now.
Using your hands, dip each stuffed blossom into the batter and gently shake to remove excess batter. Place into heated oil. Fry for 1-2 minutes until that side is golden brown, then flip and repeat. I fried the blossoms in batches of six. Transfer to plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle generously with flaky sea salt.