A Guide to Squash Blossoms in DC
farrah skeiky | Jul 26, 2013 | 11:00AM |

Photos and words: Farrah Skeiky

This squash blossom season has been an unusual one– starting a few weeks early this July, we might be fortunate enough to enjoy these blooms for a couple more weeks. Typically from zuchinni plants, squash blossoms are the edible blooms that sprout for usually less than one month out of the year in the middle of summer. Farmers sacrifice the rest of the vegetable to be able to save the bloom, and their sacrifice is our gain. The district has stepped up it’s squash blossom game significantly, and below are a bounty of restaurants serving up this rare treat.

The dish: Summer farro risotto topped with squash blossoms filled with goat cheese.

The story: The risotto at Boundary Road changes seasonally, and squash blossoms will be the featured ingredient until their season ends.

Squash Blossoms - Casa Luca

The dish: Fritto Misto featuring squash blossoms (stuffed with a light herb ricotta and marscapone), shrimp, zucchini and baby artichokes. Served with a spicy tomato sauce and a basil pesto.

The story: The Fritto Misto is always offered at Casa Luca, but the items within it change seasonally. Cheese stuffed squash blossoms fit in perfectly with this variety plate.

Squash Blossoms - Casa Oaxaca

The dish: Tempura battered Ricotta stuffed squash blossoms served with a spicy hibiscus salsa.

The story: While this squash blossom appetizer is a new addition, squash blossoms are a mainstay in Casa Oaxaca’s menu with the huitlacoche and blossom cream stuffed ravioli. The hint of Italian influence through the menu is tied together beautifully during blossom season.

The dish: Squash blossoms stuffed with hand dipped New York Lioni ricotta, seasoned with garlic, herbs and panko. Cooked on a flattop grill, and served on a summer tomato essence and seasoned with Dino’s own Silk Road Spice Blend

The story: The team at Dino pride themselves in utilizing locally sourced ingredients- at least 60% of their produce falls into this category- and the squash blossoms are no exception. They will remain on the menu as long as Tuscarora Organic Coop, Path Valley and/or Spring Valley can supply them.

The dish: Squash blossoms stuffed with Maryland Blue Crab, zucchini and Trahana, and dressed with a drizzle of ramp oil.

The story: The northern Greek influence of Kapnos’ menu transforms the traditional stuffed squash blossom, especially the Trahana (“a couscous-like mixture of cracked wheat and fermented milk popular in the Eastern Mediterranean”).

The dish: Tempura Style Zucchini Blossoms stuffed with ricotta and fontina cheese, ragu’ of fava beans, chiodini mushrooms, and pork belly.

The story: Osteria Elisir holds the traditional ricotta-stuffed blossom in high regard, but Chef Enzo Fargione surprises with the fava bean and pork ragu- the only blossom dish we’ve come across so far featuring meat, yielding a heartier appetizer.

Squash Blossoms - Oyamel

The dishes: Cold Corn Soup (with Good Fortune Farm tomatoes and squash blossoms), Squash Blossom Quesadilla (served with salsa verde cruda con aguacate), Squash Blossom Tamale (with fresh corn and chicharrones), and Squash Blossom Veracruzana (stuffed with Westfield Farm Goat Cheese and plancha seared with Veracruz sauce).

The story: “The squash blossom or “flor de calabaza” is a traditional ingredient in Mexican cooking, known for versatility in everything from soup to quesadillas.” Oyamel sources their blossoms from Good Fortune Farm in Brandywine Maryland.

Squash Blossoms - RedRocks

The dish: A white pizza with an olive oil base, burrata, garlic, cherry tomatoes, and squash blossoms.

The story: Rather than placing squash blossoms in an appetizer, RedRocks are sticking with what they do best: pizza. The simple pie showcases the blossoms, and boasts a tangy and sweet balance. The blossoms on this particular pie came from the chef’s own garden, and the rest come from Maryland farms.

Squash Blossoms - Restaurant Nora

The dish: Squash blossoms stuffed with smoked ricotta, spinach, wilted onions and chanterelles, battered in cornmeal tempura, and flash fried. Served with tempura zucchini, cherry tomato confit and corn veloute.

The story: Restaurant Nora is the country’s first certified organic restaurant, and their menu is ever-changing. The squash blossoms come from Tuscarora Organic Co-Op in Pennsylvania, and this dish is inspired by the Three Sisters grouping of corn, squash and tomatoes.

Squash Blossoms - Ripple

The dish: Tempura fried squash blossoms in puddles of tangy dill yogurt and served with and Maryland blue crab cakes.

The story: Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley adds Maryland blue crab dishes a couple times a month for a very short while, and squash blossom season sees some overlap. Only the leaves of the blossoms are very lightly tempura fried, and served with melon, cucumber, pickled fresno peppers, and dill yogurt. The yogurt in the “salad” and the crabcakes transforms what would have been a much heavier dish into a lighter and brighter one.

Squash Blossoms - Tabard Inn

The dish: Ricotta stuffed squash blossom tempura, served with spicy strawberry and tomato jam.

The story: Executive Chef Paul Pelt has a knack for incorporating seasonal ingredients to Tabard’s traditional menu, and squash blossoms are currently in rotation with an exceptionally long season. Next up? Okra blossoms, from the same Virginia farm.

Squash Blossoms - Table

The dish: Escargot ravioli with a ratatouille of zuchinni, tomato, red pepper, eggplant, purple basil and ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms with saffron.

The story: Table’s locally sourced menu changes every two weeks, which means this season’s squash blossoms have seen multiple new recipes at their hands. These Pennsylvania blossoms add a fresh touch to an amplified traditional recipe.

The dish: Smoked Tilefish appetizer with roasted corn agro dulce, and tempura squash blossoms.

The story: Tallula’s Executive Chef Nate Waugaman prides himself in the restaurant’s impeccable seafood selection, so a seafood squash blossom dish is no surprise. The smoky appetizer is balanced by the sweet roasted corn.

The dish: Corn tortilla tacos with stuffed (cheese, onion, cilantro), fried squash blossoms, served with ranchera sauce.

The story: Taqueria Nacional’s blossoms come from Sunnyridge Farms in Pennsylvania. The vegetarian options here are always changing, and squash blossoms are a very special part of Mexican cooking, making them the perfect choice for this season’s veggie taco.

The dish: Deep fried squash blossoms filled with goat cheese, olive oil poached artichokes and pea shoots on a mache salad, with yellow tomato sauce.

The story: Tosca’s traditional Italian approach is amplified with the use of goat cheese instead of ricotta, and the artichokes and mache salad make for a tangy, spirited dish.

The dish: Arugula Salad with ricotta stuffed squash blossoms, served with pecans and lemon vinaigrette. The squash blossoms are filled with ricotta that has been seasoned with honey, salt, and smoked paprika, and then tempura fried.

The story: Trummer’s takes locally sourced ingredients and bends traditional recipes to incorporate surprising flavors. Chef Austin Faussett surprises diners with a smoky sweet ricotta stuffing.

The dish: Baked blossoms with ricotta, Virginia peach chutney, hazelnuts, solera vinegar, and local honey.

The story: Keeping with a great tradition of utilizing deceptively simple ingredients to yield surprising flavors, Vermillion wisely incorporates local summer peaches, plus hazelnuts and vinegar to create a squash blossom dish that’s almost sweet enough to be a dessert.