A Summer Specialty – Squash Blossom Omelette
My first culinary encounter with squash blossoms was in Florence, Italy. I had traveled to Italy on a vacation with my mother and sister – a “girls getaway.” We spent a week in the country, starting with a requisite few short, bustling, days milling around the tourist destinations in Rome before moving on to Florence. In comparison to Rome, Florence was a breath of fresh air. The town was quaint and no where near as touristy, the markets were perused by foreigners and locals alike and the food was simply divine, the dishes we enjoyed were far more rustic than those we had tried in Rome, with a distinct flair for bringing out the best in fresh, regional produce. We quickly decided that we would spend the remainder of our time in Italy in this beautiful Tuscan City.
On our second day, after spending the morning and better portion of the afternoon walking around local markets, we wandered into a small hole-in-the-wall cafe for a late lunch. At that hour, they were in between their lunch and dinner seatings, but we were hungry and they agreed to cook us a snack. We happily volunteered to make lunch of whatever was easiest for the kitchen to prepare. What emerged about 15 minutes later were some of the most beautiful butternut squash raviolis in a butter sauce and a plate of crispy golden flowery parcels. These parcels turned out to be squash blossoms, which were stuffed with freshly made ricotta, deep fried and then plated up on a rustic platter surrounded by a shallow puddle of homemade tomato sauce. It was love at first bite.
When I saw these delicate little gems at one of my favorite stalls at our weekly farmers market I knew I needed to take them home and try my hand at making magic with the paper thin blossoms. The blossoms come from a local Tennessee farm, “Devlin Farms,” which hosts a stand and enviable CSA at the Wednesday afternoon market located quite literally (and luckily) on our block. As I didn’t want to pull out the deep fryer I needed to come up with an alternative to the stuffed squash blossom fritters I had enjoyed in Italy, something that would transforming the flowers into a homey meal for Dustin and myself without veiling the beautiful color and delicate texture of the blossoms. I remembered seeing a “squash blossom omelette” featured on a brunch menu at a small cafe back in Pennsylvania and decided to take a stab at making my own rendition.
True to our breakfast loving roots, Dustin and I are quite practiced at making omelettes. The fantastic thing about an omelette is that it serves as a fantastic palette for any seasonal produce we have on hand, well, with some notable exceptions (ask Dustin about the time he tried to make apple omelette, not exactly a stroke of culinary genius, but a valiant effort.) In any case, I started to think about flavors that would complement the blossom’s delicate nature, I indexed these musings with what we had on hand and came up with an egg dish that featured some nice nutty manchego cheese, bold and herbaceous cilantro, and slightly sweet caramelized onions. I have to say this one was a big winner and will likely make its way back onto our plates next year during squash season. Make sure you inspect the blossoms well before cooking, if yours are freshly picked as our were they may be harboring some friendly critters inside, also you will need to carefully remove and discard the pollen filled stamen from the center.
Squash Blossom Omelette with Caremelized Onions and Herbs
For 2 Omelettes:
2 TBSP Whole Milk
1 TBSP Butter
1 Onion Sliced Thinly
4 Squash Blossoms
1 – 2 Oz Manchego Cheese Chopped into Small Pieces (about 1/2 inch little squares)
1 TBSP Chopped Cilantro
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
In a medium sized bowl beat the eggs and milk together until frothy and set aside.
In a 9 inch skillet melt the butter. Once melted, toss in the onions, sprinkle in a pinch of salt and allow them to cook over medium high heat until they just begin caramelize (about 6 or 7 mins) remove the onions from the heat and set aside on a small plate.
Clean the skillet and wipe it dry. Set it heating over medium heat and spray it with a bit of non stick spray (we use an organic one from Trader Joes.) Pour in half of the egg mixture, allow it to cook for about 30 seconds and stir, allowing the runny bits on top to fall below the already cooked base. Springle some onions on top followed by the cheese, two blossoms, and the cilantro. Cover immediately and allow to cook for another minute over low heat before lifting the lid, check the omelette for doneness (if it is not done cover the pan for another 30 seconds or so before checking on it again.) Sprinkle on a liberal pinch of pepper.
Delicately fold the omelette in half and gently tip it out onto a plate.
Repeat the same steps for the second omelette and enjoy a wonderful seasonal meal!