Squash blossoms were on my list of “unicorn produce to get my hands on this season” along with romanesco, watermelon radishes, and cucamelons. (I’ve yet to find cucamelons and I’m getting pretty salty about it, to be honest.)
Back in the beginning of April, I helped my friends till and plant their garden. Like, a real BIG garden — not an urban container garden like mine (though no disrespect to container gardens, mine is blooming like mad right now!) Over the weekend, I visited said friends and paid a visit to their crop; I wanted a proud veggie mom moment. And omg. I can’t tell you how excited I was (and how confused my friends were) when I spotted these highly sought-after squash blossoms.
It sounds fancy, and it looks fancy, but if you’re a gardener and you’re growing zucchini, you know that these blossoms are accessible, easy to harvest, and meals that include them aren’t as pretentious as they look. Sometimes I struggle with making meals look approachable because I love gorgeous produce and fresh ingredients, but all of these things are easy to snag if you know where to look.
This pizza is as easy to assemble as it is pretty.
People usually stuff these gems with a ricotta cheese mixture and lightly fry them to a wee crisp. Though that’s delicious, I wanted to see what they would be like on a pizza, because pizza is everything.
What do squash blossoms taste like?
Squash blossoms are delicate and have a very mild squash-like flavor to them. With that said, there’s no real reason to go searching high or low to find these beauties (or pay a fortune for them at the market) except to visually impress. Since most people who garden tend to grow zucchini, I thought this might be a fun idea to throw out there in order to make use of these blooms — especially if you’re entertaining!
How do I harvest them? Will it mess up my zucchini growth?
No — just don’t be greedy. Here’s the thing: squash plants produce a large number of blooms, both male and female. Female blooms will give you zucchini while male blooms just hang out and pollinate. With that said, you don’t want to harvest all of the male blooms; leave a few on the plant to pollinate the females. Look at your crops and use your best judgement.
Now you’re probably wondering how to identify the males from the females. It’s simple. Male blossoms have thinner, straighter stems than the females. Along with a thick stem, the females will carry a small bulge at the base of the bloom; that bulge is an ovary and the beginning of a baby squash. (Awww!)
So about this pizza.
We’ve got pesto; we’ve got crunchy walnuts; we’ve got gooey cheese, julienned zucchini, squash blossoms, snap peas, and ANCHOVIES! (Those are optional, but I highly recommend them because they’re oh-so-delicious and saltier than me when I can’t get my hands on cucamelons.)
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Summer Zucchini + Pesto Pizza With Squash Blossoms
Pizza Dough (You can use the recipe below, your own fave recipe, or a pre-made shell if it suits you best!)
- 3 1/2 - 4 cups 00 flour or all purpose flour (Note: Though all purpose flour will work just fine, type 00 flour offers more elasticity which makes for much more successful pizza rolling!)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 1/4 oz packet instant dry yeast
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups very warm water
- 2 TBSP (+ 2 tsp) olive oil
- 3 TBSP pesto
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 oz julienned or thinly sliced zucchini
- 1-2 oz flat anchovy fillets (whole or chopped) optional
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts
- 4 squash blossoms, halved
- Sugar snap pea pods (however many you'd like!)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, sugar, yeast, and kosher salt. With the dough hook attachment, mix well. While the mixer is doing its thing, slowly add the water and 2 tablespoons of oil; beat until the dough forms into a ball. (If the dough is sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in a solid ball.) If the dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead it until a smooth, firm ball forms.
- Lightly grease a large bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Place the dough ball into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put it in a warm spot to let it rise (it should double in size) for about 1 hour.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cover each with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes. Once they've rested, it's pizza making time! (You can freeze one of the portions if you're not going to use it.)
Preparing Squash Blossoms
- Carefully open the blossoms to check for bugs, 'cause this ain't no "Fear Factor" pizza. Give them a little shake over the sink. Cut off any leftover stem, and slice the blossoms in half. Remove the stamens from the center. Gently rinse the blossoms under cool running water, set on a paper towel, and lightly dab to dry.
- Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Prepare your pizza-making surface by lightly greasing a baking sheet or tossing some cornmeal onto a pizza stone, depending on how you're doing it.
- Start to push down on your dough to flatten it out, and start pressing down and out to stretch it. Keep pressing down and out until your pizza reaches the size you'd like (aim for about 14 inches or so).
- Optional step: Brush the edges (where crust will form) with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of garlic salt for a garlic crust!)
- Spoon the pesto into the center of the dough and spread it out evenly.
- Evenly sprinkle the cheese over the pesto, followed by the zucchini; add the anchovies, red onion, walnuts, blossoms, and opened pea pods.
- Sprinkle a bit of extra cheese over everything if you're inclined to. (And I think you are!)
- Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until edges of crust are golden.