Ratatouille with stuffed squash blossoms

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Let’s clear one thing up right out of the gate: Squash blossoms are found on many different plants in the squash family — from pumpkins to spaghetti squash — so don’t be confused if someone calls them zucchini flowers this time of year.

Phew. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about how these pretty orange blossoms are showing up on restaurant menus around town. Thanks to their shape and the fact that they are edible, chefs often fill squash blossoms with cheese and fry them up. The vibrant blossoms can also be eaten raw. They taste sweet, a bit earthy and like zucchini when fresh. There are lots of other edible flowers to choose from at the Santa Monica Farmers Market but Casi Richie, whose farm is Life’s A Choke in Lompoc, likes squash blossoms best.

For Chef Ken Takayama, the beginning of summer means a trip to the farmers market to buy squash blossoms for the menu at Mélisse. He dreamt up this elaborate recipe with his team that tastes great and preserves the natural look of the flower. Wrapping the edible flower around a soft-boiled egg and then frying the blossom lightly in breadcrumbs and oil help to keep the flower’s form and petals intact. The squash blossom and egg are then served atop ratatouille, an architectural marvel that is a nod to Europeans who like their ratatouille with eggs, sunny-side up.

Ratatouille with stuffed squash blossoms (Photo courtesy of Mélisse) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Ken Takayama’s Ratatouille with Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Yield: Makes 6 servings