Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gluten- and Dairy-Free Fried Squash Blossoms

Yeah, you heard me. Gluten-free. That's my new thing (OK, well I can have kamut, which most GF peeps can't usually have. But then again I can't have oats, even GF ones. Thank goodness I LOOVE brown rice). Oh, and they're dairy-free. And corn-free.

So what to do when Mother Nature graces us all with an abundance of blossoming in the garden in late July (with pumpkins, zucchini, and cucumbers blooming)? Fry squash blossoms, just like I had in Italy!

The Italy trip two summers ago was the one that changed my life. Not in a major way, but there was a spark that was lit -- not to mention the power that Italian culture (pace of life; love of good, simple food; the sheer joy in sharing a meal with friends or family) had on my mindset -- that has changed me for the better. Seize what you have and make the most of every moment. Sounds simple, yet there it's more challenging than you might think. And no food more so than delicate squash blossoms, dipped in a light batter and fried crisp, more swiftly takes me back to that hilltop home in the middle of the Val D'Orcia.

Normally, I'd use white or cake flour and beer when making my fritter batter. Yet my new lifestyle has me turning to gluten-free alternatives: Brown rice flour and water (with a smattering of herbs). While I wish I had a thermometer when frying, and a bit more seasoning IN my batter, the end result was surprisingly delicious, light, and crisp -- just the thing I wanted at the end of a hot summer night (complete with burgers and salad, enjoyed with a glass of wine). 

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Fried Squash Blossoms

Vegetable oil, such as grapeseed, safflower, or canola, preferably organic, for frying
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 hearty pinch salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cups finely chopped basil
20 squash blossoms

Mix all ingredients except blossoms in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large saute pan, heat 1 inch of oil until 350 degrees (I didn't have a thermometer so I checked to see how hot it was by dropping in bits of batter and looking to see how fast they cooked; you want them to color a bit within a couple of seconds).

Dip blossoms into batter, making sure to really coat the blossoms. Remove blossom and carefully plunge into oil. Cook until bottom is golden, about 30 minutes. Flip and cook until golden. Remove, drain, and season well with salt. Continue until all blossoms are fried. Enjoy immediately.

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