Walking through Montreal’s Jean Talon Market I bumped into a stall that sells SQUASH BLOSSOM!!! I couldn’t believe my luck!!
These little flowers, which in Mexico they call “flor the calabaza”, are so very common over there and the most typical way to eat them is sautéd and on top of a tortilla. As in “Quesadillas de Flor de Calabaza” or in English that would be “Squash Blossom Quesadillas”.
When I saw them I immediately jumped over and grabbed as many boxes as I could fit into my bags. As a result, people standing around started to get interested and asked what they were and how to eat/cook them.
Here is in the hope these people will eventually find this blog post so they can enjoy some delicious Squash Blossom Quesadillas!! :)
How to Store Squash Blossom?
You will most likely find the blossoms sold in plastic containers. It’s always best to eat prepare them the same day you buy them or up to a maximum of 3 days after buying them. To make them last the longest, leave them in their box, lay a paper towel on them and close the box and store in the refrigerator. While the box keeps them from being squashed, the paper towel will absorb the moisture accumulating in the box. Since too much moisture will cause them to rot, remove the paper towel and replace with a new dry one every 24 hours to keep them as dry as possible.
What Part of the Squash Blossom is Edible?
So, on the picture above are whole squash blossoms. They are basically a stem and the leaves around a tini tiny squash to protect it from the cruel world of weather and bugs ;) The leaves taste delightful and here is the cue, it’s the leaves that are edible. ONLY the leaves. I mean, I guess the stems can be choked down but they taste very, very bitter and are hairy and spiky and gross.
To remove the leaves, pull gently on the stem and the bottom part of the leaves, close to where they are attached to the stem and pull. You should be left with only leaves in one hand and stem, plus tiny squash, plus spiky things around the base of the squash (see image below). Discard the stem and squash and keep the leaves.
How to Clean Squash Blossom?
The leaves should be washed just like you would lettuce. Fill a bowl with water and let soak for a minute or two, moving around with your hands. Rinse under cold water in either a strainer or what I like to use is the salad spinner’s strainer. Then dry in a salad spinner.
How to Cook Squash Blossom
In my opinion and the opinion of about 103 million Mexicans I’d say :P They are the very best in quesadillas. Squash Blossom Quesadillas are a typical food sold in markets, on the street and even in restaurants. They are prepared in the blink of an eye and taste delightful!!
Once you removed the stems and washed and dried the leaves, set them aside.Sauté a bit of chopped onions in olive oil, add the squash blossoms for about 1 minute, salt and that’s it. Stir often like you do when making scrambled eggs. That’s how easy it is!
In some parts of Mexico “quesadillas” are served without cheese. Don’t ask me why. It is a mystery to me how a “cheese tortilla” (<- literal translation of quesadilla) can be sold as such when it doesn’t contain cheese. Sometimes things simply don’t have an explanation ;)
The thing is, if you don’t like cheese, you are already done. Just warm up your tortillas, add the sautéd squash blossom and onions and your Squash Blossom Quesadillas are ready to eat.
If you DO like cheese (hello, best friend!): place your tortilla in the pan, add grated cheese on it, wait for it to melt and then add the squash blossom/onion mix to it. In both cases, add fresh lime juice, give it a big bite and let the delicious juices run down your chin.
Squash Blossom Quesadillas (de flor de calacaza)
- 14 oz squash blossoms (400g)
- 1 small onion
- 1 tsp salt
- 400 g melty grated cheese (such as oaxaca, swiss, cheddar) (optional)
- 4 corn tortilla
- Heat a pan over medium heat.
- Destem, wash and dry squash blossoms.
- Peel and chop onion.
- Add a splash of olive oil to the pan, then add chopped onions and sauté until translucent.
- Add squash blossom leaves to pan and sauté for about 1 minute or until soft.
- Add salt, stir, remove from pan.
- Place tortillas in the same pan (two at a time), add grated cheese on top and wait for it to melt.
- Remove from pan and place on a plate, top with squash blossom/onion mix, drizzle fresh lime juice over it and give it a big bite!
- (this recipe yields 4 tortillas, not 4 servings. I shared with my husband but could have eating it all by myself, so it's for maximum 2 people).