Gluten-free Fried Green Tomatoes and Squash Blossoms

4/20/2012 Update: My apologies to anyone who has tried this recipe prior to now. I accidentally omitted typing the 1/4 cup water in the recipe below. Oops!

Gluten-free fried squash blossomsWe’ve received squash blossoms (also called zucchini flowers) two weeks in a row in our CSA share. You can do a few things with them: chop ‘em up raw and add them to salads, stuff them with sausage and bake them, or fry them up as crispy appetizers.

Today I finally got around to altering a gluten-filled batter and frying some up thanks to inspiration from Eugenia Bone’s At Mesa’s Edge book. The seasons are lining themselves up perfectly with the recipes she has listed in the book. Though she’s writing about seasonal foods in Colorado, it appears that New York’s same crop seasons are just a month sooner. I found a similar recipe on Eugenia’s blog, not exactly what’s in the book, but you gluten-eaters get the point.

Of course I reduced her recipe. Hers called for 16 flowers, I had four. I also took the liberty to stuff mine with diced jalapeno and ricotta salata before frying them. I rescued a few green tomatoes, the first two fruits on my back deck Early Girls plant, and coincidentally the only ones that showed signs of blossom end rot. I consulted my You Grow Girl book and this dark patch forming on the bottom signals calcium deficiency (from water not circulating the calcium around efficiently, usually not soil mineral deficiency); this is pretty common in container plants since they dry out fast.

[Actually, a few weeks ago I figured out that my bucket o’ maters’ soil was drying out too quickly and instituted a supplemental watering system (a wine bottle filled with water, nose down in the soil); all the other fruits look great.]

Gluten-free fried green tomatoesMy apologies to Eugenia for possibly massacring her lovely gluten-full recipe. It turned out really well, though. We were really pleased with the crisp, light batter on both the tomatoes and the blossoms.

Gluten-free Fried Green Tomatoes and/or Squash Blossoms

Actually makes enough batter for up to 10 squash blossoms, and 2-4 small green tomatoes

1. Combine the following in a small mixing bowl:

2 Tbs white rice flour

1 Tbs potato starch

1 Tbs tapioca flour

pinch xanthan gum

1/4 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

1/4 cup water

1 egg white

1/2 tsp cider vinegar

1/2 tsp lemon juice

Don’t be discouraged when you smell the batter and it smells slightly metallic, vinegary and honestly, pretty gross. (I don’t like the smell of tapioca flour.) Have faith. It’ll coat your veggies innocuously in the end.

2. Place batter in the fridge for an hour if you have the time, or as long as you have before you’re hoping to eat.

3. Prepare stuffing if desired.

I diced one jalapeno and mixed it with about 1/4 cup of ricotta salata.

4. Prepare blossoms and tomatoes. Don’t wash squash blossoms, just shake them out and make sure there aren’t any bugs in them. Slice tomatoes as thinly as you want. Mine were really small so slices ended up being between 1/4- and 1/2-inch slices.

5. Pull cold batter out of fridge and stir it up again to incorporate all ingredients well. Dip blossoms one at a time, then stuff with your mixture. If stuffing the blossoms, you’ll probably want to tie the ends with a 5” (or so) piece of cooking twine. A single tie will do, no need to double knot.

6. Use a medium sauce pan and pour 3/4-inch worth of oil in the bottom of the pan. Vegetable, canola, safflower, etc. just not olive oil.

Don’t worry, you can re-use the oil for something else later. Just store it in the fridge between uses. Bring oil to temperature over medium heat checking for readiness by dipping the handle of a wooden spoon in it. If bubbles form, it’s ready. You can also live dangerously and flick water at the pot (from a safe distance); if the oil reacts, it’s ready.

7. Drop battered blossoms in two at a time with a slotted spoon. They cook up pretty fast so keep your eye on them. When they’ve browned on the edges flip them over. I fried the battered tomatoes about 6 slices at a time because they fit nicely and didn’t overlap.

8. Remove done blossoms and/or tomatoes and place on a plate lined with a clean kitchen cloth or paper towel to absorb excess oil.

9. Serve with cilantro-infused mayonnaise. (You can take a half-cup of regular, store-bought mayo and add 3 Tbs minced cilantro and 1/2 Tbs lemon juice. I actually made my own from scratch—with an egg yolk and oil [what fun!!]; which deserves another post entirely.)Homemade mayo is miraculous and really fun to makeWe of course ate gigantic salads after our fried, delicious appetizer course!