McClendon's Squash Blossoms at Farmers' Markets

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Some flowers make a cute and colorful edible garnish. Some, like roses and hibiscus, impart magical flavor through their essences. But the large and meaty squash blossom is practically an entree on its own and has enriched its local cuisines for centuries. The taste is much like young tender squash, but the texture is really something else.

Like mature summer squash, blossoms can be mixed into a soup or stew or stuffed with other ingredients. They're often dipped in egg or a more complex batter and fried -- the now-defunct Taneko Japanese Tavern, a great izakaya place by the Scottsdale Borgata, served them tempura-style, with the tiny developing squash attached and stuffed with interesting things.

McClendon's Select Organics is one of the Valley growers that harvests blossoms from squash plants and sells them at farmers' markets so you can try your own dishes. As any gardener knows, many plants can't support every bud all the way through to flower and then fruit, so using surplus blossoms as food is good husbandry as well as a fun exploration.

Tomorrow's Town and Country Farmers' Market (Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the shopping center at 20th Street and Camelback Road) will be a good opportunity to snag some of these briefly appearing delicacies. McClendon's also vends produce at Scottsdale's Saturday Old Town Farmers' Market (which has shifted to spring hours of 8 a.m. to noon for the month of May).

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