Today I ate ants for lunch. What does it say about me that 1. I don’t mind eating a handful of ants, and 2. I don’t have the patience to pick off every ant from the food I wanted to consume? I’ll let you cast the first stone. I didn’t set out to eat the insects, but like most things in my life, my NOW impulse overwhelmed my Perfection impulse. So there were a few lingering ants. What can I say?
After finally getting off my ass and doing something around the house, I harvested the first round of what will prove to be too, too, too much zucchini. Again. I seem to have this problem where I start all my squashes inside, transplant them, fail to attend to them and replant more with the zeal of a raccoon in a trash can. Inevitability, the zucchini plants proliferate, and about now, I am digging out recipes that demand a minimum of four zuchs and scouring the neighborhood for any open car windows I can find.
Nevertheless, the abundance of squash plants also means I reap squash blossoms. They remind me of a cross between my neighbor Ginny’s day lilies and a buddha’s hand. They give me that feeling that I am elite and gourmet and that I have spent countless hours in some glorious foodie task that would make MFK Fisher smile.
They are delicate and tender. Bright yellow and, depending on when harvested, open wide as one’s palm or swirled shut like a frozen yogurt. The males, with their nub of a stub at their base, are a bit more rewarding in the mouth (this post could go so many bad places right now, but I will rein myself in. You’re welcome, Mom.) For some reason, the ants in my garden have either colonized or organized a rave at base of each squash blossom. Hello, ants, don’t you know these are a delicacy? So here we are, faced with the arduous task of handpicking each of the sixty or so ants out of the blossoms or removing the lion’s share of them and resigning ourselves to eating ants for lunch. You can see the quandary I was in, right? I mean, it’s summer. It’s not even a choice. Ants for lunch it is.
The flowers taste a bit like crepe paper would, and so stuffing them is necessary. A typical recipe calls for filling the flower with goat cheese and lightly frying the blossoms. I had neither goat cheese nor the desire to fry anything (I mean, who likes fried ants?) so I stuffed them with some tofu cashew spread N and I whipped up for yesterday’s lunch.
About the tofu cashew: it might change your life. The Co-op sells their version of this in little tubs for $5 each. We might not pay our mortgage if we hadn’t found a recipe to make it at home. It’s super simple, is great plopped on top of a salad (I wrapped it in broccoli leaves yesterday) and really camouflages the fact that you might be eating a stray ant or nine.
Plus, when you scoop a spoonful of tofu cashew into a perfect squash blossom, it looks like ice cream in a cone. And I am willing to eat anything that remotely resembles ice cream. In fact, I bet those ants are just mobile chocolate sprinkles.
Squash Blossom Tofu Cashew (ants optional)
1 package firm tofu
1/4 c nutritional yeast
vegan mayo to taste (if not vegan, I recommend Hollywood Safflower)
1/2 c raw cashews, chopped
1/2 head parsley
2 celery stalks
1/2 red onion
1/4 c white raw or roasted sesame seeds
tamari to taste
dijon mustard to taste
3 cloves minced garlic
5 squash blossoms
Mash tofu in a bowl and add in minced veggies and chopped cashews. Add mayo, mustard, yeast, spices.
The mixture will be dense, but will soften up after the cashews absorb some of the moisture. Scoop 3-4 tablespoons into each squash blossom; pair with a good book and a light afternoon breeze.