Recipe: Ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms

Total time: 1 hour

Servings: 6 to 8

Note: Adapted from Matt Molina of Osteria Mozza. Squash blossoms are available at farmers markets.

1 pound ricotta

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 pound low-moisture mozzarella, cut in small cubes

1/4 pound fresh mozzarella, cut in small cubes

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Pinch ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

16 to 18 squash blossoms

3/4 cup rice flour

3/4 cup sparkling water

Canola oil for frying

Sea salt

Lemon juice

1. Pass the ricotta through a food mill or fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Stir in the eggs, low-moisture mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, nutmeg and salt. Taste and add more salt or nutmeg if necessary.

2. Stuff each squash blossom with a spoonful of the ricotta mixture, being careful not to overstuff -- the ricotta should not be forcing its way out of the flower. Figure 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons per blossom.

3. Place the rice flour in a medium bowl and slowly whisk in enough sparkling water to make a batter the thickness of light cream, about three-fourths of a cup. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set the bowl with the batter in the ice bath to keep it cold.

4. Fill a deep, wide pan with canola oil to a depth of at least 2 inches. Heat over high heat to 375 degrees. Dredge the stuffed squash blossoms in the batter, making sure they are completely covered, then drop them into the hot oil, frying only 3 or 4 at a time to avoid overcrowding. Fry until the blossoms are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

5. Remove the blossoms to a tray lined with paper towels to drain briefly, then transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with sea salt and a few drops of lemon juice and serve immediately.

Each of 8 servings: 457 calories; 18 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 35 grams fat; 14 grams saturated fat; 123 mg. cholesterol; 598 mg. sodium.

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