In 1977, the Berkeley Bowl opened its doors in a former bowling alley, aiming to give California’s East Bay community an international grocery shopping experience. Today Berkeley Bowl co-founder Glen Yasuda still wakes up every morning at 4 a.m., trekking across the Bay Bridge to visit a handful of produce markets where he gets first pick of the seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Author of “The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook” Laura McLively, says that Yasuda’s relationship to produce sellers around the Bay Area is what gives the Bowl its consistent selection of unusual vegetables and fruits.
Visit Berkeley Bowl this month and you’ll find squash blossoms and corn, both in the midst of their peak seasons. Below, McLively shares a recipe from her new book that incorporates both. Don’t be fooled by the fact that this recipe only has five ingredients– these stuffed squash blossoms look and taste deceptively gourmet.
“Their molten centers of ricotta and corn and elegantly tied up with fresh chives, there isn’t a better way to savor the tender zucchini flowers that mark the start of summer,” McLively says. “It’s impossible to decide whether these are better baked or fried, so take your pick—or try both.”
Availability of ingredients: Well-stocked groceries and farmers’ markets from late spring to summer
Selecting the blossoms: Vibrant yellow-orange flowers that are tightly closed
How to store: Refrigerate wrapped in a paper towel in a plastic bag for up to 2 days
Preparation suggestion: Do not wash the squash blossoms with water; simply wipe away dust with a damp towel
Not interested in blossoms?: Try flexible leaves such as Swiss chard
Sweet Corn and Chive-Stuffed Squash Blossoms
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
1 ear of sweet corn
1 cup ricotta
2 tablespoons fresh minced chives
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
12 squash blossoms
Extra fresh chives for tying the blossoms
Optional ingredients (for frying)
Pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten
Prepare the corn: Lightly boil or steam the sweet corn for 2 minutes. Slice off the kernels and combine with the ricotta, minced chives, salt, and lemon juice.
Ready the blossoms: Carefully reach into the squash blossoms to pinch off the stamens. Fill each blossom with about 2 tablespoons of the corn ricotta mixture and twist the top of the blossom. Fold a chive in half for extra strength and carefully tie it around the top of each blossom to secure them closed.
For tender, delicate baked blossoms: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the stuffed blossoms on an oiled baking dish and bake for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
For rich, crispy fried blossoms: Heat 1 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Combine the cornmeal with the pinch of salt. Dip the stuffed blossoms in the beaten egg and dredge in the cornmeal. Fry in the skillet for about 1 minute per quarter turn until all sides are golden brown. Serve hot.