Food and Drink

With squash blossoms plentiful, this ‘cheesadilla’ is the perfect quick snack

Even with a bit of a late start to the summer harvesting season, it seems squashes and zucchini with their stunning golden blossoms are finally everywhere. If I’m not bright and early to the Saturday market, friends are kind enough to share the flowers from their gardens as they know they are one my favorite seasonal edible blooms. Summer squash, zucchini and late-summer pumpkins produce both male and female blossoms, so if picking your own, make sure to go for the male blossoms in order to preserve the harvest; spikier, they have a thin base that attaches directly to the stem or branch of the vine. You’ll find a prominent stamen inside that is best removed before consuming. Highly perishable, they can be stored for a few days wrapped in paper towels in the fridge.

There are many ways to enjoy both the zucchini — dipped in flour and egg for a quick fritter; roasted; grilled; stuffed and baked — and the gorgeous flowers. I fill them with goat cheese and mint before dipping in a tempura-batter for a quick fry; stuff with tapenade and burrata to place on the grill just until wilted and infused with a bit of smoke. Or wrap them around fillets of fresh wild Alaska sablefish before searing in a hot skillet; some even adorn pizza and pea and zucchini risotto.

This quick snack or starter, the “cheesadilla,” inspired by Spanish chef José Andrés, is an addictive combination of an Italian frico — thin and crisped Parmesan cheese — and a quesadilla. Andrés serves the frico topped with a blossom, unstuffed, and drizzled with a balsamic dressing. I like to fill the blossom with a bit of mozzarella and tapenade or pesto, topped with fresh zucchini pico de gallo and lime crema. In lieu of squash blossoms, try other edible blooms, sprouts, and leafy herbs. These are delicious piping hot out of the skillet but know that they crisp up as they cool and can be eaten like a taco as is, or, serve in a soft warm corn tortilla. — Kim Sunée

Stuffed squash blossom cheesadillas

Makes 12 cheesadillas

For each cheesadilla:

2 to 3 packed tablespoons fine-to-medium grated Parmigiano-Reggiano per blossom (about 8 ounces total for 12 blossoms)

1 squash blossom* (or other fresh edible flowers/herbs — see note above)


1 teaspoon black or green olive tapenade (or pesto or romesco sauce)

1-inch piece fresh mozzarella, drained of any liquid (or soft goat cheese)

For serving for 12 blossoms:

Lime crema: 1/2 cup plain yogurt or Mexican crema mixed with the zest and juice of 1 lime

Zucchini pico de gallo: Finely dice and combine in a medium bowl: zucchini/yellow squash, onion, tomato, and jalapeño; toss with some fresh cilantro; season with salt, pepper, lime juice

• Remove stamen from inside squash blossom and clean, as needed, using a damp paper towel. If using, fill blossom with tapenade and fresh mozzarella. Repeat with as many blossoms as desired.

• Heat a large heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet over medium heat. For each cheesadilla, place about 2 packed tablespoons Parmesan in the hot skillet and use back of a spoon or spatula to quickly spread cheese into a 3-inch round. Cook until cheese is just starting to melt. Press a stuffed blossom on top and continue to cook until cheese is browned and crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Carefully pry off in one piece using a spatula and flip; cook 30 seconds or so to brown blossoms slightly and melt cheese inside of blossom. Transfer to a serving plate and repeat with remaining blossoms. Serve at once with zucchini mixture, lime crema, in warm tortillas, if desired, or with a coulis of freshly grated tomato and garlic.

[Squash blossoms, stuffed with cheese and fit to be fried]

[Squash is abundant now. This casserole with buttery crackers is a seasonal indulgence.]

Kim Sunée

Kim Sunée is a bestselling author ("Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home," "A Mouthful of Stars," "Everyday Korean: Fresh, Modern Recipes for Home Cooks") and a former magazine food editor. She's based in Anchorage. For more food and travel, visit