I saw my first pansy of the year the other day and it made me think of spring. Many moons ago, I was the Garde Manger (fancy words for salad maker) at a very posh French restaurant in Wayne called La Fourchette. This was my first exposure to edible flowers….what did I just type….edible flowers?! Yes, edible flowers. As the Garde Manger, I used the petals of pansies, cornflowers, roses, and chrysanthemums in my salads. (Please don’t go into your garden, side of the road or florist to pick these delicacies, as these ingredients need to be pesticide-free and organic to be edible.) What I learned over time is, there are so many edible “flowers” I never considered flowers at all. Did you know that artichokes, broccoli florets, and arugula are actually considered flowers? Artichokes and broccoli are vegetable flowers; arugula is a weed! (Caution is required as some people may be allergic to certain types of weeds and flowers.) As soon as I realized that arugula was a weed, it reminded me of my grandparents’ table in South Philly, where dandelion (another weed) salad was served with regularity. They reminded us that this was part of their diet during and after World War II to survive.
Various teas are also made from flowers; chamomile, hibiscus, rose petal, chrysanthemum and lavender. Squash blossoms (mild pumpkin flavor) are wonderful stuffed with ricotta cheese, batter dipped and then deep fried. Click here for Ricotta Recipe. Some ideas for edible flowers: put them in your salads, (Remember to use only the petals of the flowers – no stamens or stems!) decorate dishes, pastries, cakes, cupcakes, cheeses and make teas.
For more information on the wide range of flowers to eat, what they taste like, and which ones to avoid, go to Edible Flowers.