Chick pea vegetable curry.

Chick pea vegetable curry.

Squash blossoms: The alluring summer crop you should be eating

The flower of any vegetable is a delightful sign of the fruit to come, but with summer squash, also known as zucchini, the reward comes well before the mid-summer harvest. Bright yellow, four-inch-long squash blossoms are abundant on tables at farmers markets from mid-June through July. We all know bunches of these flowers make for first-rate Instagram posts, but did you also know that they are highly nutritious and a luscious addition to summer meals?

Like many other edible flowers, squash blossoms are an excellent source of vitamin C, calcium, and other nutrients. Around the world they are commonly prepared fried in a cornstarch and flour batter with herbs or baked, stuffed with a ricotta cheese and honey. Chopped squash blossoms, with their delicate flavor, can also be tossed into pasta dishes, quesadillas, frittatas, and so much more. Below is Mill City Farmers Market Chef Jenny Breen’s recipe for a summer curry with squash blossoms, chick peas, and other early summer vegetables.

You can find naturally grown squash blossoms at the Mill City Farmers Market every Saturday while they’re in season. The market is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and located on the corner of Chicago Avenue South and South 2nd Street in the Mill District. Learn creative ways to prepare healthy, seasonal meals every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in the Mill City Cooks Kitchen, where the Market hosts professional chefs for a free 30-minute cooking class.

Also this month, join the Market on July 16th as it celebrates the Mighty Mississippi! The University of Minnesota Raptor Center, Mississippi Park Connection, Great River Coalition, and other conservation groups will be at the market teaching visitors all about the ecology of our beautiful river! Learn more at millcityfarmersmarket.org.

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Early Summer Chick Pea and Vegetable Curry

By market chef Jenny Breen

Ingredients

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1 bunch spring onions, cleaned and sliced

4 cloves garlic, garlic scapes, or green garlic, minced

2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced

6 cups vegetables, chopped into 1 inch pieces

(Early Summer picks: Squash blossoms, leeks, bok choy, zucchini, snap peas, broccoli, green onions, and carrots)

1 14-ounce can coconut milk

1 cup apple juice

1/2 cup stock or water if needed

2 cups chick peas cooked in 6 cups water (or 2 14 oz. cans)

1 tablespoon turmeric

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoons fresh thyme

2 teaspoons cayenne or red chillies

2 teaspoons salt

Whole Grain Rice or Asian Style Noodles (optional for serving)

Curried Sugared Walnuts (optional for serving; recipe below)

Method

Heat oils in pan, add tougher vegetables like carrots and onions, and sauté about 3 minutes, until onions are soft. Add other vegetables and sauté until desired tenderness, 2-5 minutes. Add spices and apple juice and continue to cook making sure the spices are well blended. Add coconut milk and chick peas and combine well. Turn the heat to low and let simmer about 12-15 minutes. Serve over cooked whole grains or Asian-style noodles and garnish with Curried Sugared Walnuts (recipe below). This can also be prepared ahead and served cold.

Curried Sugared Walnuts

Ingredients

1/2 cup walnuts, halved

2 tablespoons butter, melted with 3 tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

1/8 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon chili powder

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

Directions

Toss walnuts in melted butter/syrup mixture. Stir together spices and salt in a medium bowl; sprinkle over walnuts, tossing to coat. Spread in a single layer on a nonstick lined pan. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack; separate walnuts with a fork. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.