Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Embracing the Squash Blossom (without killing its flavor)

A trip to the farmers market recently yielded a wonderful delight. Some of the most beautiful squash blossoms.  Whenever I see a squash blossom I always think of a beautiful delicate flower, yet so many of the dishes for squash blossom call for them to be stuffed or deep-fried. With all the wonderful fresh vegetables out there right now, we (my sister and I) decided to embrace our local produce haul for the week and make a vegetable pasta dish with a little bit of bacon thrown in for my nephew, because everything is better with bacon. Below is the recipe we threw together, but feel free to follow your own bliss.  Just remember, the squash blossom is a delicately flavored flower, so this one time hold back a little on the spice.

Summer Harvest Pasta with Squash Blossom

Two bunches of squash blossom – tear into 1–½ inch pieces – reserve one if you would like for a beautiful garnish
One medium size Japanese eggplant – medium dice (skin on)
Fresh tomatoes – medium diced
Zucchini – ¼ inch thin slices
Yellow squash – ¼ inch thin slices
Baby heirloom carrots – cut into ½ inch lengths
Roasted garlic – 4 cloves smashed
Apple wood smoked bacon (any will do, this is just one of my favorites) – 4 slices, reserve 1 tablespoon of grease – optional but it sure does make it taste good
6 cups cooked whole-wheat pasta – reserve 1/3 cup of pasta water

Cook the bacon in a large skillet till crisp, remove the bacon set aside
Drain the fat, all but one tablespoon – if you want to go more healthy or vegetarian you can leave out the bacon all-together or just the bacon grease
Sauté the carrots for 3 minutes on medium heat
Add the smashed garlic
Add the eggplant and sauté till it begins to soften
Add the tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash
Cook to desired doneness – like mine a little al dente – if you need a little more liquid to cook it use some of the pasta water – salt and pepper to taste
Toss with the pasta making sure it is heated through then add the squash blossoms, toss one final time
Bowl up and enjoy
May be garnished with a good shaved Parmesan and a squash blossom

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