For these months leading up to and including holidays which are important family celebrations, Kitchen Keepers is celebrating the Art of Cooking, or beauty in the kitchen if you prefer! One of the most stunning ways of feeling like an artist while working with food is the use of edible flowers! Not just as a garnish, which is always lovely, not just for a ladies luncheon, but as a wonderful taste and tell addition to your menu. Squash blossoms are so much fun, especially if you happen to grow your own. Since the male squash flower has done its work when it has provided pollen for the female flowers (yep, there’s a difference – they have a longer stem and no small bulb at the end next to the vine), it is perfectly alright to pick them for using in the some fanciful and fantastic recipes. If there are no squash vines in your garden, you may find the blossoms sold at farmer’s markets or specialty stores. There are great recipes that use the whole flower by stuffing it or dipping it in a batter to fry. For this sauce, the flowers need to be fine chopped.
Simply trim off the stem end, spread the flower flat to brush off any tiny bug or debris, rinse and pat dry. You can stack the flat blossoms to shred for this recipe. I like to use purchased butternut ravioli which I cook and drain before plating with the sauce.
Adapted from Molly Wizenberg
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped
12 squash blossoms, quartered lengthwise and chopped fine
pinch of saffron
2 cups chicken broth
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Bring a large pot of water to boil for cooking pasta while starting sauce.
Add butter and oil to a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and parsley; cook, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Add the squash blossoms, a pinch of salt, and the saffron. Stir gently. Add 3/4 cup of the broth, stir gently, and raise the heat to medium. As the broth starts to reduce, continue adding more broth gradually until it has reduced significantly and only a small film of broth coats the vegetables. This should take about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk.
Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook according to package directions.. While it cooks, place the sauce back on medium heat. Measure 3 Tablespoons of pasta water and, whisking constantly with a fork, gradually add the hot water to the egg yolk to temper it. Pour the yolk mixture into the saute pan, and stir continuously to combine. The yolk will thicken the sauce.
When the pasta is al dente. (about 2 1/2 minutes.), scoop the pasta from its cooking water into the sauce, and use tongs toput it into the sauce. Cook the two together for about 30 seconds, then serve in shallow bowls or on plates, topped with grated Pecorino Romano and garnish with fruit and a sprig of basil.