Haul from Wednesday’s Farmers’ Market: parsley, dill, Swiss chard, beets, spinach, broccoli, orach, zucchini, squash blossoms, cucumbers, tomatoes
Farmers’ market season is upon us. Stalls are bursting with fresh greens and herbs. Early broccoli and zucchini are spottily available. The first bunches of baby carrots appeared today.
Surprises abound at the markets: scarlet vine-ripened tomatoes from Delta Junction, Matanuska Creamery’s Caramel Cashew ice cream made using only milk from Alaska, steaming pots of homemade pozole and elote, blowsy ‘Flemish Antique’ peony poppies, freshly gathered duck and chicken eggs from Future Farmers of America.
Among the abundance, golden squash blossoms stand out as a rare treat. Never in stores, they’re available only during their short season to home gardeners and farmers’ market shoppers. So far this year, only Rempel Family Farm is selling squash blossoms in Anchorage (50 cents each on Wednesday at Northway Mall Farmers’ Market and Saturday at South Anchorage Farmers’ Market).
Delicate squash blossoms don’t like plastic bags. If paper bags aren’t available, wrap in newspaper.
All squash blossoms are edible and may be used interchangeably. Because we grow zucchini at home, I’ve gotten used to calling them zucchini flowers. The more generic term, squash blossoms, is usually more accurate when buying from farmers who grow a wider range of squash.
I love stuffing squash blossoms with cheese and cooking them until they’re crispy and oozing with hot, melted cheese. (Tastes Like Home: Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska has recipes for 2 different cheese fillings for zucchini flowers.) Herby essence of basil brightens the flavor of Cheesy Potato-Basil Stuffing for zucchini flowers, and pairs well with a side of fresh greens. Squash blossoms are also tasty dipped in a tempura batter and simply fried.
Blue and brown eggs from Future Farmers of America; both had deep golden yolks.
On days when I want the flavor of squash blossoms, and don’t want to fiddle around or mess with hot oil, I make Squash Blossom Frittata.
Today we had farm-fresh, golden-yolked eggs, fresh herbs, and creamy fresh goat cheese to pair with the squash blossoms. Sighs of satisfaction replaced conversation as we ate; I finished by licking my fingers, wanting more.
Peony Poppy ‘Flemish Antique’, Papavar somniferum paeoniflorum© 2007-2010 Laurie Helen Constantino, all rights reserved