Squash is such an overachiever that it not only grows prodigiously but also produces flowers to get on our good side. Often battered and fried, the ombre green-yellow-orange flowers are delicious. At this time of year, it's worth trying the flowers fresh -- something Italians and chefs have been doing for years. "I once worked on a story with a chef who grew his own produce," Martha Stewart Living food editor Christine Albano says. "On his farm, he picked squash blossoms, and we ate them right there. Eating them raw inspired me to use them in new ways." The flowers lend a subtle hint of the gourd's flavor and a splash of color to whatever dish they're in, whether you toss them in a simple green salad or try one of the recipes here.
Look for baskets of blossoms in farmstand stalls through early fall. The soft, trumpet-shape flowers will be slightly shriveled; avoid those that are excessively limp or have buds that have opened.
Squash blossoms are flowers, so they fade fast. Stand them in a cup of water, or wrap in a damp paper towel and refrigerate them in a plastic bag for up to one day.
Gently open the delicate blossoms (you may need to cut or tear down one side), and remove the stamen using a sharp paring knife or kitchen shears. Plunge flowers in cold water to remove any dirt.