Fried Squash Blossoms

The ultimate summer starter, incredibly beautiful and flavorful.

Ingredients:
12-16 squash blossoms
1 cup ricotta
1 large egg yolk
¾ cup Grana-style cheese, divided
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¾ cup chilled seltzer water or club soda
¼ cup finely-chopped mint
2 tablespoons each finely-chopped parsley and basil
3 cups vegetable oil, for frying
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Method:
1. Stir together ricotta, egg yolk, herbs, half of the cheese and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a small bowl.

2. Carefully open each blossom and fill with about 2-3 rounded teaspoons of the ricotta filling, gently twisting the end of the blossom to enclose. Tip: Use a pastry bag for this! (You may have filling left over.)

3. Whisk together flour, remaining cheese, about ¼ teaspoon salt, and seltzer in a small bowl.

4. Heat ½ inch oil to 375° in a 10-inch heavy skillet. Meanwhile, dip blossoms in the flour batter to thinly coat. Fry coated blossoms, turning once, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes total. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain. Coat and fry remaining blossoms. (Return oil to 375° between batches.) Season with salt and serve immediately.

Summery Orzo & Corona Bean Salad with Arugula

This orzo salad is always a hit; feel free to swap your favorite summer produce in!

Ingredients:
1 cup orzo pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 cup canned Corona beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup canned artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
¼ cup each orange and red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cups arugula greens
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
3.tablespoons chives, snipped
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup currants, plumped in hot water and drained

Dressing:
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Method:
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar and garlic, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the cooked orzo and beans with the dressing. Let cool.

2. Add the remaining salad ingredients, tossing lightly to distribute evenly. Refrigerate until ready to serve. (This can be prepped up to a day in advance, though wait to add the arugula until just before serving.)

Radish Spread with Fresh Herbs

This cool, creamy spread is wonderful slathered atop slices of toasted or grilled Pain au Levain bread.

Ingredients:
6-8 Pink Beauty radishes
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
1 8-ounce block cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons crème fraîche
Zest of 1 lemon
Cracked black pepper
Flaked sea salt
Multigrain bread, sliced

Method:
1. Clean, trim, and thinly slice the radishes. Place in a bowl and add the parsley, dill, and chives.

2. In another bowl, combine the softened cream cheese with the lemon zest, pepper, and crème fraîche or sour cream. Mix well.

3. Add the radish-herb mixture to the creamy spread and gently combine. Spread on toasted bread slices and garnish with sea salt and serve.

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Buttered New Potatoes with Fresh Herbs

This simple recipe from Ina Garten brings out the buttery flavor of new potatoes.

Ingredients:
1½ pounds baby red potatoes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup mixed fresh green herbs, such as parsley, mint, chives and dill, all chopped
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Method:
1. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the whole potatoes, salt, and pepper and toss well. Cover the pot tightly and cook over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender when tested with a small knife. From time to time, shake the pot without removing the lid to prevent the bottom potatoes from burning.

2. Turn off the heat and allow the potatoes to steam for another 5 minutes. Toss with the herbs, and serve hot.

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