Come spring, the farmers' market is abundant with fresh, local fruits and vegetables, but I've got only one thing on my mind at the moment -- zucchini flowers (or squash blossoms, if you prefer). Last year, I wrote about how to stuff and fry the flowers whole, just like my grandmother used to make them. The blossoms are beginning to make an appearance -- I saw some at Revival Market recently -- and once they hit the shelves and tables of your favorite market, you will have about six to eight weeks to purchase them.
The flowers are completely edible in their raw form, and can be chopped into salads or used as a garnish. I don't really believe in this kind of healthy application, and prefer the delicate flowers stuffed full of cream or ricotta cheese, and then battered and fried -- but to each their own.
Keep an eye on restaurants like Hugo's, Dolce Vita and Coppa, where I have spied dishes using zucchini blossoms in the past. Italian restaurants and farm-to-table concepts are the most likely suspects when seeking out dishes made with fresh squash blossoms. Whether used in fresh salads, as pizza toppings or in fritter form, squash blossoms are a true seasonal treat. If your favorite chef is using them, give them a try -- you won't be sorry.
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If you want to purchase blossoms to experiment at home, check in at Revival Market or visit Urban Harvest on Saturday mornings, where at least two vendors offer a regular supply in spring and fall. Have you already seen a restaurant with a zucchini blossom dish on the menu? Tell us about it in the comments, and tweet me at @snowcones so I can go check it out.