Squash blossom salad is a take on stuffed squash blossoms, even if it is a bit unusual. The delicate squash blossoms taste–you guessed it–like squash, but since they’re paper-thin, they all but disappear in your mouth. Drizzled on top is a dressing of lemon and olive oil infused with thyme and garlic. It’s just enough to enhance the vine-fresh blossoms. Add tomatoes, a little basil, and some herbed ricotta, and what more could you need? The dish is dynamic and, in truth, more than a little filling. (I would know…I finished this one all by myself!)
Okay, so the blossoms in the picture belong to a native Florida variety of Cucurbita moschata known as Seminole pumpkin for its association with the Seminole people, though it features in Creek, Calusa, and Miccosukee diets as well. The crawling vines produce lots of squash and even more blossoms. You can eat the blossoms of a variety of vining squash plants, including zucchini blossoms, the most common type found in farmers markets.
If, like me, you’re growing squash at home, you might also be getting a bunch of yellow, softball-sized flowers. If yellow is the international “slow down” signal to humans, it’s the international “get your abdomen over here” sign for pollinators. These big yellow flowers contain pollen and rely on a brigade of wasps, bees, and butterflies to get that pollen to the occasional “female” flower with a pistil. Since Florida’s lost most of its pollinators in the suburbs, I usually pollinate by hand.
When to pick flowers
My squash blossoms generally have a one-day lifespan. They’ll open wide in the morning, clamp shut by noon, and shrivel up by the end of the day. I generally harvest blossoms around 10 a.m., when the flowers are just starting to close.
How to clean your blossoms
If you don’t have many bugs to dispatch from your blossoms, just brush the dirt off like you would a mushroom. This is your best option! If there are, for instance, many sugar ants like I have, then you can soak them in a bowl of cold water before storing.
Although all parts of the flower are edible, I usually remove the tiny, thin leaves at the base of the flower (pictured above) as well as the stamen in the center.
How to keep your blossoms
For a flower that thrives in the summer heat, refrigeration sure seems to crisp it up. The ones I pick tend to keep in a sealed bag for two days, but they’re best used fresh.
How to make squash blossom salad
I adapted this salad from Martha Stewart’s Shaved-Squash Salad with Tomatoes, Zucchini Blossoms, Ricotta, and Thyme Oil. “Less squash, more blossoms” was the name of my game.
- First, make the garlic thyme dressing: Heat 1/4 cup oil, a pinch chili flakes, and three generous sprigs of thyme over medium. When small bubbles appear, remove from the stove and pour into a small bowl. Remove the thyme leaves from the thick stems and add back to the oil. Add two generous pinches of kosher salt, the zest of one lemon, and one clove of finely grated garlic. Let stand for 20-30 minutes then strain and add the juice of 1/2 lemon.
- Then, spruce up your ricotta: To 1/2 cup ricotta, add 1/8 teaspoon (a generous sprinkle) finely ground black pepper and 3 tablespoons chopped parsley (a few sprigs). Mix well.
- Assemble your salad! On a large plate, arrange 10 squash blossoms and a handful of chopped cherry or currant tomatoes. Add dollops of the ricotta mixture around the blossoms, and then tear 1/4 cup of basil leaves and add on top. Drizzle 1 1/2 tablespoons of your garlic thyme dressing onto the blossoms along with an additional sprinkle of salt.
Variations on squash blossom salad
There’s a ton of ways to make this salad:
- Stuffed blossoms: Try stuffing the ricotta mixture into the flower so you can eat them like little dumplings. Mmm! While you’re at it, maybe batter them and fry them? But of course, it probably wouldn’t be salad at that point. 😂
- Swap the cheese: Burrata anyone?
- Skip the cheese: For a vegan version, add more veggies (see below!) and perhaps sprinkle some toasted pine nuts on top.
- Fluff the flowers with veggies: Try tossing with thinly sliced (or spiraled) zucchini or summer squash. You might also want to add a bed of spinach.
- Nothing at all: Squash blossoms can be eaten right off the plant! (Guilty as charged…)
Planning a salad feast? Try some of these salad recipes alongside your squash blossom salad!
- Kale Salad
- Watermelon Salad with Mint and Watercress
- Crispy Tofu Quinoa Salad
- Green Chutney Potato Salad
- Roasted Zucchini Salad
- Pesto Couscous with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
- Farro with Mushrooms and Walnut Dressing
A whimsical, delicate salad that makes the most out of the extra blossoms from your squash plant.
For the Garlic Thyme Dressing
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3–4 sprigs thyme
- 1 pinch chili flakes (optional)
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 clove of garlic, finely grated
- 2 pinches kosher salt
- juice of 1/2 lemon
For the Salad
- 10 squash blossoms
- 1 large handful halved cherry or currant tomatoes (~1/2 cup)
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 1/8 teaspoon finely ground pepper
- 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
- 1/4 cup torn basil (I used purple basil)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons thyme garlic dressing (see above)
- pinch salt (optional)
For the Garlic Thyme Dressing
- Add the olive oil, thyme sprigs, and chili flakes to a small saucepan over medium heat.
- When you start to see tiny bubbles emerge on the thyme leaves, remove from heat and place in a small bowl. Remove the large stems from the thyme and return the leaves to the oil. Add the lemon zest, garlic, and 2 pinches salt. Let the mixture steep for 20-30 minutes or until the flavors have developed.
- Strain the oil and add the lemon juice. The mixture will separate, so be sure to shake/stir it before adding to the salad.
For the Salad
- Arrange the squash blossoms and tomatoes on a large plate.
- Add the parsley and black pepper to the ricotta and stir until blended. Add dollops of the ricotta mixture around the blossoms. Sprinkle with the basil leaves.
- Finally, drizzle the thyme garlic oil evenly over the blossoms and throw on a pinch of salt.
- Serve and eat immediately.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.
Keywords: salad, squash blossom salad, vegetables, healthy recipes, vegetarian, healthy, gardening, Seminole pumpkin, squash blossom, tomatoes