Tori Valadez making baked zucchini fritters. Photo by Karen Boughton

We actually don’t have a garden, just a few herbs and fruit trees scattered around the front and back yards, so I suppose at the Boughton house it is “How green is your yard?” Just five days before we arrived back in Kingwood from Hilton Head Island, S.C., I scheduled our cool, laid-back hippie landscaper to do a spring treatment on our yard and landscaping. We wanted top dressing, aeration and his secret “Hippie Juice.” The name of his company actually is Hippie Fertilizing (hippiefertilizing.com). If you call, ask for A.J. and tell him I sent you. He always ends each conversation with this statement, “Have a groovy day.” Pretty cool, huh? So I scheduled him and he promised me that when we arrived back in town we would have the greenest yard on the street. And yes … I do believe he was right. Oh, my gosh; everything was either green, blooming or starting buds of fruits and vegetables. Our fig tree has figs, our lemon and lime trees have flowers … the strawberry plants have flowers and strawberries and the zucchini plants have blossoms. And did I mention the oregano, rosemary, mint, thyme and parsley? I may not be able to grow tomatoes, but the plants look fantastic. So, how green is my garden? It is very, very green. And that brings me to my first-ever attempt at making stuffed zucchini blossoms. I have eaten them often, several times when in Greece, and also when we were gifted a few of these breaded and fried heavenly appetizers also known as “meze.” I have never been able to find the blossoms in the produce section of any local grocery or even at the farmer’s market. But now, I have my own crop and I have been picking, cleaning, stuffing and frying several of our own blossoms. I also picked a couple of baby zucchinis and made some fritters out of them. I will put on my farmer overalls, pick a few morning blossoms and green veggies and invite you to “Please Join Our Table.”

Karen’s Stuffed Squash Blossoms

For years I have wanted to make my own stuffed squash blossoms but could never find them to buy. This year I planted a whole squash and said to myself, “If it grows, it grows.” Well, here is my recipe!

15-20 squash blossoms, cleaned and insides carefully removed (pick them early in the a.m. when blooms are open)
1/2 cup whole milk (I used coconut milk)
1 1/2 cup self-rising flour
1 1/2 teaspoon seasoning of choice
1 1/2 teaspoon seasoning of choice (I used a Greek seasoning with extra oregano and a dash of paprika)
1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon Greek seasoning
Salt and pepper as desired
4 ounces soft goat cheese cut into 15-20 cubes
2-3 ounces smoked, diced link sausage of your choice (I actually used crabmeat in half of my squash blossoms)
1/2 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil and grapeseed oil or another high heat-tolerant oil such as coconut oil
2 lemons, sliced 
Tzatziki sauce for dipping

In a medium bowl, combine goat cheese and sausage. Open the blossoms and spoon about one 1/3-1/2 teaspoon of the mixture into the center of each. Do not overfill the blossoms. Twist the top of each blossom together to close. Place them on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes. While blossoms are chilling in the fridge, place the milk, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon Greek seasoning, salt and pepper into a shallow bowl and mix well. Place flour on a large flat plate, add seasoning of choice and set aside. Remove the stuffed blossoms from the fridge and carefully place squash blossoms in flour mixture, then in milk, then back into flour mixture. Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet until a drop of water will sizzle. Using tongs, fry the blossoms in the hot oil (about 3 minutes) until golden brown, carefully turning to brown on all sides. Serve hot with lemons for squeezing over and tzatziki or a sauce of your choice. 

Karen and Granddaughter Tori’s Baked Zucchini Fritters 

Parchment paper
2 medium or 1 large zucchini
2 teaspoons salt
1 large egg
1 cup breadcrumbs, separated (I like to use panko) or all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
1/2 cup shredded potato (optional)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup minced red or green onion
2 teaspoons Greek oregano
1/4 cup of grated hard Greek cheese or Pecorino Romano
3/4 cup whole-milk, not low-fat, crumbled sheep feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
2 tablespoons fennel root or fronds or dill (optional)
Paprika
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Grate zucchini, sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt and set in colander 1 hour to drain, occasionally pressing down on the zucchini to help drain juices. After 1 hour, preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a dinner plate, mix 1/2 cup bread crumbs with, paprika, salt, pepper and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, set aside. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients with the drained zucchini. Roll into small balls. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and brush olive oil on parchment paper. Roll the zucchini balls in the breadcrumb mixture. Place zucchini balls on the parchment paper and gently smash flat, top with a bit of paprika.  Brush with olive oil. Bake 15-20 minutes. If not brown enough at 15-20 minutes, place under broiler 1-2 minutes. Serve warm with tzatziki sauce or a sauce of your choosing.

Karen Boughton
Author: Karen BoughtonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I grew up in a big, Greek, cooking family. I married my high school sweetheart and soon had three daughters. My husband and I worked in the family’s Greek restaurant, “Zorba’s,” for several years before moving to Baton Rouge and eventually Corpus Christi. There I taught microwave cooking classes for Amana.in studio and on television for three years before moving to Kingwood in the late '80s. I reached out to learn more about regional and international foods, spending 16 years in management in private athletic/dining/country clubs for ClubCorp, where I embraced health and cooking. In 2008 I joined the Tribune Newspapers as food editor, the same time that I became a nutrition advisor and USANA Health Sciences Associate. These two passions have given me better health and the freedom to live life my way.

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