Eat Well: Squash Blossoms & Roly-Poly Squash

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, WWW! We missed you and we're super pumped your back! TGIWWW! 
It’s been quite a month—fabulous vacation to New England (where I fell madly in love with Maine) and knee surgery last week. Thank you, all for your wonderful thoughts and good vibes. I felt all the love so strongly and I really think it made a difference. The surgery was a success. Hopefully after I recover I will be back to body surfing, carrying grand babies, and hiking without the constant fear of ending up in the ER. I am extremely grateful for modern surgery techniques—and ice machines. I’ve nicknamed mine “Icy” and Icy is my new best friend.

Although I haven’t been able to cook much, I did manage this weekend to sneak in a meal mainly because in our absence, a volunteer squash plant had crept across our entire patio, bearing several mottled round squashes and a plethora of huge blossoms begging me to stuff them. When we left on our trip, the plant had already spilled over the sides of the box where it had taken up residence, but when we returned, this is what we found.
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I immediately called the family plant guru, my mom, to see if the squashes were edible.

“Oh yes,” she replied, “But they probably won’t be very good. Most of those volunteers are weird mules—very vigorous but strange hybrids and not very tasty.”
I picked the three squashes anyway. When I cut one of them open, inside was white flesh that dripped with beads of liquid.
I sampled some of it raw and—it tasted like a sweet, juicy zucchini—and stashed the squashes in the refrigerator until I could figure out what to do with them. A few days after my surgery, feeling completely housebound and needing an outing, I asked Larry if he could take me to our new local farmer’s market (it’s small enough that I felt I could hobble around with my wounded knee and not overdo it) and there amidst a large variety of colorful and unusually shaped squashes was my squash…the round, mottled-skinned squatters growing in my garden.

“Do these have a name?” I enthusiastically asked the seller.

“They’re called roly-polys!”

“Are they super sweet and juicy when you open them up?”

“Yes!” he continued. “They are great for stuffing!”

I bought one and compared it to the squashes waiting in my refrigerator. Low and behold, they were identical.

I used to stuff zucchinis all of the time. The kids loved them and it was a great way to use the larger fruit I had missed in the zucchini patch. In those days, I filled them with a combination of Italian sausage, breadcrumbs, herbs, onions, and pine nuts. You can stuff squashes with any sort of stuffing—rice, quinoa or other grains and veggies and herbs. This time I decided to stuff them with ricotta cheese and herbs since that sounded quick and easy and wouldn’t require my standing on my feet too long.

Ricotta Stuffed Roly-Poly Squash 

4 medium roly-poly squashes
½ onion, chopped
3 chopped garlic cloves
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 T fresh chopped herbs (oregano and thyme work great) or 2 t Italian dried herbs
1 egg, beaten
A pinch of red pepper flakes (more if you like things spicy)
¼ cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Italian breadcrumbs
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop squashed in the boiling water and cook about 5 minutes until skewer gives slightly when pierced into squash.
Let squashes cool.

Cut the tops off of the squashes and scoop out the seeds.
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Turn upside down on paper towels to drain.

Sauté chopped onion in olive oil on medium heat until translucent. Add garlic and cook another 1 minute. Combine cheeses, chopped herbs, onion, beaten egg, red pepper flakes, pine nuts and salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

Stuff drained squashes with the cheese mixture. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
Cook at 375 until cooked through and browned on top, about 45 minutes.

My roly-poly monster is an extremely vigorous vine with huge leaves, tons of gigantic male flowers and very few female flowers, which means not many squashes. But since I am a squash blossom fan, it has been truly a treat to harvest a dozen 5-inch blossoms every day and cook them various ways. The entire squash, cucumber, and melon family produce two types of flowers—male and female—and they depend on insects buzzing from flower to flower to fertilize them. The female flower is attached to a very tiny fruit and when pollen from the male is deposited, via a bee, on its pistil, fertilization occurs and the fruit begins to grow. After the males have closed up for the day, they are useless to the plant and can be picked for many different uses in the kitchen. Make sure you are truly picking a male flower. You can tell the male flower because it resides on the end of a long thin stem as opposed to being attached to a baby squash.
Male flowers with thin stems
There are many ways to use squash blossoms. You can stuff them with different types of cheeses, dip them in flour and egg, and fry up for an appetizer or a side dish. You can add them to soups, lay them on pizza, toss them with pasta, stir fry them with other vegetables, or add them to quiche, egg scrambles, or frittatas.
Squash blossoms truly make this frittata beautiful as well as delicious. And it is quick and easy to make. I have a 12-inch cast iron pan but if you have a 10-inch pan, use 5 eggs and fewer blossoms. This is a very forgiving recipe and lends itself perfectly to improvising. I used what I had in the house since I’m slightly housebound right now and this is what I came up with. Fresh dill or chopped chives would be yummy instead of the herbes de Provence I used. And you could use any cheese—asiago, Parmesan, jack, cheddar or whatever cheese is your favorite.

Squash Blossom Frittata 

12 to 14 large squash blossoms (or enough to make a pinwheel in the bottom of your pan), stems trimmed
8 eggs
1 sliced onion (can use shallots or leeks if you want)
fresh herbs (such as chives or dill) or herbes de Provence
4 oz cheese (I used goat)
Salt and pepper
1-2 T butter or olive oil

Check blossoms for bugs by gently opening them and looking inside. Wipe carefully with a damp paper towel.

Whisk eggs with salt and pepper. Add chopped herbs.
In a 10-12 inch heavy bottomed oven proof pan (preferably cast iron) melt 1 T butter or olive oil on medium high. Add sliced onion (or shallots or leeks) and sauté until slightly brown. Set aside onions.

Add a little more fat in pan and arrange blossoms in a pinwheel, stem sides to the middle.
Fry for about a minute until wilted. Turn and fry for another 30 seconds or so.

Preheat oven on broil. Add onions to eggs, stir, and pour into hot pan.
Pour in egg mixture
Add cheese evenly all over. Cover pan and cook on low until eggs are almost set but still runny on top (4-5 minutes). Put under broiler to finish cooking eggs (watch carefully…this goes quickly!)
 Flip out onto plate and serve. Can be eaten at room temperature.


I have been making the following recipe for over 20 years. It came from the 1987 version of The Best of Sunset Magazine. I didn’t have the cream cheese in the house so used goat cheese and it was yummy! If you use small squash blossoms, these make great appetizers. My jumbo flowers, though, made a great side dish.

Stuffed Squash Blossoms 

6 large squash blossoms or 12-15 small ones, gently cleaned and checked for bugs
3 oz cream cheese or goat cheese at room temperature
1 T milk
1/3 cup freshly grated Paresan cheese
freshly ground pepper
1 ½ T canned or freshly roasted diced green chiles
2 large eggs
olive oil

Rinse blossoms with a gentle spray of cool water; shake off excess. Trim off stems completely (close to blossoms). Set aside.
In a bowl, blend the cream cheese (or goat cheese) mil, Parmesan cheese, pepper, and chiles. Spoon about 1 teaspoon filling into small blossoms or 1 T into large blossoms. Twist tip of blossom to close. Roll blossoms in four to coat lightly. Set aside.
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In a small bowl, beat eggs with 1 T water. Heat oil in a 10-12 inch frying pan over medium-high heat. Dip blossoms one at a time into beaten egg.
Place in oil (do not crowd) and cook, turning as needed, until gold brown.
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Drain on paper towels and set in 150 degree oven until all blossoms are cooked. Serve hot and enjoy! 



Margie | 9:16 PM

These look so yummy! Can't wait to try it with my cushaw blossoms!

unfounddoor | 1:09 AM

Fiori di zucca are my favourite!!! My husband, a Sicilian, fries them as above but stuffed with mozzarella and half an anchovy, and we've also tried them on pizza bianca and in omelettes (omelettes are great if you've missed their best moment and can no longer easily stuff them).

They're actually perfect if you're an apartment dweller with only a balcony as you can get a good blossom yield from just a couple of plants.

I'm so hungry now :)

L.L. | 9:17 PM

Looks amazing - can I use the stuffed squash blossom recipe for stuffing peppers and tomatoes? I used to have a stuffed tomato recipe that I loved but I lost it and have been unable to re-create, so I am still searching for the next best thing.