Fried squash blossoms with cashew cheese are a vegan appetizer that’s sure to impress! Zucchini flowers are stuffed with cashew cheese, dredged in flour and spices, and shallow fried.
You’ll be thinking about this appetizer all year long, until squash blossom season comes around again.
For years I’d hear friends talk about getting stuffed squash blossoms at restaurants. They sounded so intriguing and fancy.
They aren’t on a lot of restaurant menus, though. And they’re rarely vegan.
So while I loved the idea of a crisp blossom, filled with something creamy, breaded and fried, it was only in my dreams.
That is until I started seeing zucchini flowers at the farmers market about 8 years ago. They aren’t terribly expensive. So I decided to take the plunge and make fried zucchini flowers at home.
And I’ve been making them every year ever since.
David and I look forward to them so much that almost as soon as the market opens in May, we start wondering when the bright yellow & orange blossoms will pop up at our favorite stall.
So now that squash blossom season is here again, I don’t want you to miss out on the opportunity to make them too.
You have to move fast! Those blossoms aren’t around long.
How do squash blossoms taste?
Squash blossoms have a slight zucchini flavor. They are very mild.
What really stands out about the stuffed squash blossom experience is the crispiness that forms around the blossom, and the cashew cheese inside. So rich & decadent.
The cashew cheese is loaded with miso for umami, nutritional yeast flakes for cheesiness, and fresh basil. These blossoms are pure summer joy.
These stuffed squash blossoms are fried envelopes of warm cashew cheese. What’s not to love?
Where to find squash blossoms
Obviously, if you are growing zucchini or delicata squash, you can snip off a few blossoms for yourself.
Or look for them at your local farmers market. If a farmer usually sells zucchini or squash, that’s a good place to start.
In my area, squash blossoms sell for around $2 a bunch. You want fresh looking squash blossoms that aren’t wilted or withered.
For best results, use them quickly
Once you buy them, don’t wait too long to use them. They don’t hold up well. After a couple of days they will start to shrivel and stick to each other.
Until you are ready to use them, put the flower stems in water to keep them hydrated & fresh.
Once you are ready to use them, carefully rinse them. Then inspect them for any bugs inside. If you find any bugs, relocate them back to the outdoors.
I like to carefully remove the pistils or stamen from inside of the flower.
(If you tear the flower a little when removing the pistils or stamen, don’t worry about it. You can easily mask it while breading it.)
How to make them
Make the cashew cheese
There’s not a lot of liquid in this cashew cheese. So you’ll definitely want to soak the cashews in water for several hours first. I recommend soaking them in water overnight.
After soaking, drain the cashews. Then blend them in a food processor with miso paste, nutritional yeast flakes, and extra virgin olive oil. Add fresh chopped basil and combine.
One note: You might be tempted to omit the miso from the cheese, because organic miso can be pricey. Get the miso. It’s completely worth it for the hit of round notes and umami it brings to the blossoms.
Fill the zucchini blossoms
To fill the squash blossoms, use a cake decorating funnel bag or a plastic freezer bag with the corner cut off. Squeeze the bag until each blossom is generously filled.
Now it’s time to bread them. Fill a small bowl with plain non-dairy milk and cornstarch.
On a separate plate, combine flour, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Dip each filled blossom into the milk mixture, shake to remove any excess. Then roll each blossom in the flour mixture.
Fry the stuffed blossoms
Cover the bottom of a skillet with oil about ¼ inch deep. Bring to a medium high heat and fry the flowers, turning occasionally as each side browns. They will fry fully in about five minutes.
Move the fried squash blossoms to a paper towel or kitchen towel-lined plate to drain excess oil. Then serve.
What to serve with them
Fried squash blossoms are delicious on their own as an appetizer.
Have them as a starter before roasted gnocchi with vegan almond pesto.
Fried cashew cheese stuffed squash blossoms
For the cashew cheese
To make the cheese
- Drain the cashews and process them with miso paste, nutritional yeast flakes, and extra-virgin olive oil in a high speed blender until completely blended. Add the chopped fresh basil and continue to blend until fully combined. The cheese will be very thick and paste like. That is a good thing, because it will help the blossom to seal shut, and it won't ooze out during the cooking process.
To make the squash blossoms and breading
- Gently open each blossom and remove the pistils or stamen. Tear a single seam down each blossom to give clearance for the cashew cheese. Check for any bugs inside of the flowers and relocate them, if needed. Gently rinse the blossoms and lightly blot with a towel.
- Fill a cake decorating funnel bag with the cashew cheese (or cut a corner off of a plastic freezer bag and use that to squeeze the cheese into the blossoms). Generously fill each blossom, making sure that each one gets enough cheese before pressing the blossoms closed with the sticky cashew cheese keeping them shut. Ideally you should use all of the cashew cheese mixture. (The flouring will also help encase the blossom, and so don't be afraid to be generous with the filling.)
- Fill a small bowl with non-dairy milk and cornstarch. Stir until the cornstarch dissolves.
- On a separate plate, combine the flour, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper.
- Before breading the flowers, cover the bottom of a pan with oil, about ¼ inch deep. Set it to a medium high heat and let it warm.
- Dip each flower into the milk mixture, shake to remove excess, and roll in the flour. (Actually rolling the flowers through the flour will help set the cheese inside.) Set aside on a plate while you finish the rest of the flowers.
- Put a pinch of flour in the pan, and if bubbles immediately form around it, the oil is hot and ready. Add the blossoms to the oil. Let them brown before turning, until each side is crisp and done. They will cook in about five minutes.
- When the blossoms are done, move them to a paper towel or kitchen towel-lined plate to drain excess oil and then serve.
Originally posted August 2011. Content updated June 2019.