photograph by Matt Hulsman

Squash Blossom Pizza

Crescent-roll dough and a lemon-aioli base make this pizza both effortless and elevated.

Yield: 4-6 servings.

6-8 fresh squash blossoms, stems and insides removed
1 cup sunflower oil
Handful of peeled garlic cloves
1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
⅔ cup mayonnaise (Duke’s preferred)
2-3 cloves garlic, freshly grated
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (8-ounce) can crescent rolls
Grated fontina cheese
About ½ cup yellow and zucchini squash, thinly sliced
About ½ cup yellow and orange peppers, thinly sliced
½ cup toasted pine nuts
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Shaved Parmesan cheese

In a shallow dish, combine sunflower oil, garlic cloves, and sliced onion. Bake at 350º for 25 minutes, until garlic and onions are tender and lightly browned. Set aside.

To make aioli, combine mayonnaise, grated garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil. Whisk until aioli is thickened and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat oven to 375º. Coat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet with pan spray. Roll crescent-roll dough until thin. Press the dough in the bottom and up the sides of the skillet. Spread with aioli. Scatter with fontina cheese, squash, peppers, nuts, and seeds. Place blossoms on top. Brush exposed dough and blossoms with vegetable oil.

Bake about 15 minutes, or until the edge of the crust is browned. Drizzle with garlic and onion oil and top with Parmesan cheese.

Minty Grapefruit Salad Dressing

Add pizzazz to your salads with squash blossoms, violets, or chive blossoms. Then drizzle with our summery dressing, the perfect match for edible flowers.

Yield: About 1¼ cups.

¾ cup light oil of choice
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup freshly squeezed
Ruby Red grapefruit juice
4 teaspoons honey
Coarse sea salt and white pepper
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped

In a jar, combine all ingredients except mint. Shake to blend. At serving time, add mint and let stand for about 10 minutes. Serve at room temperature.

Note: Can be made ahead and kept refrigerated for several days.

Blackberry Blossom Fritters

For dessert: fresh berries and creamy cheese, tucked inside light, crispy squash blossoms.

2 dozen fresh squash blossoms, stems and insides removed
1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons blackberry brandy
6 ounces fresh blackberries
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¾ cup self-rising flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup cold soda water
Vegetable oil

In a small bowl, blend together cheeses and brandy. Toss berries with sugar, then fold them into the cheese mixture. Chill to firm.

To make batter, combine flour and baking soda in a small bowl. Whisk in egg and soda water. Let sit for 5 minutes.

In a small skillet, add a ½ inch of vegetable oil. Bring to medium-high heat. Gently open blossoms and put about 1 tablespoon of cheese mixture deep inside. Twist petal ends to secure. Dip the blossoms into the batter, letting excess drip off. Gently lay the blossoms into the oil. Fry for about 30 seconds on each side, until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels.

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Wendy Perry is a recipe developer, personal chef, and Franklin County native.