If it is true that we eat with our eyes, Rosalind Creasy’s book The Edible Flower Garden needs to be on your reading list! For instance, this insanely unique borage flower above from Healthy Green Kitchen integrates beautifully in cucumber salad. Organic nasturtium, toilets, borage, rose petals, lavender, calendula, squash blossoms… gorgeous, often delicious, and revolutionary in your kitchen. In fact, browse these images and see if you aren’t eager to grow a little container of edible petals yourself!
I maintain that the visual presentation of food is extremely important; even if your meal is simple, if it has visual appeal it will be more satisfying. In fact, there have been a variety of scientific studies that suggest that beautiful food is actually likely to be more nourishing than the same food served to us in an unappetizing manner.
In The Edible Flower Garden, Creasy explains the joys of flower growing in an integrated garden, the flavor profiles of edible flowers and how to dive into cultivating your own voluminous garden. Here are a few ideas that inspired me on the journey to edible flower gardening…
Nasturtium have a mustardy flavor and kaleidoscope of colors that make them a favorite in the edible flower world. A fun way to start putting nasturtium onto your plate is with nasturtium butter. A few flowers can be blended with softened (not melted) organic butter in a poor processor or strong blender, or… chop them finely then work them into the softened butter in a bowl. Refrigerate the butter in a small bowl for at least a few days to marry the flavors and then serve with toast and jam, cooked veggies or even chicken to add unexpected flavor. Nasturtium is also glamorous tossed in salad. You might find these at a flower mart, farmers market or, you can always grab seeds and try your hand at growing some this Spring (they don’t do well in the Summer, but they are very easy to grow!)
Calendula can add color and visual panache to omlettes and salads, violets are the best to candy, lavender can be used in a zillion ways… and your bounty of exotic yet attainable lushness keeps growing!
Now, if you are a novice, lets make it simple and start by using organic roses most people can, at the very least, request from their local flower mart. In Los Angeles, several vendors at the downtown Flower Mart sell bags of organic petals. Make sure you have organic flowers (this is extremely important!)… To make a rose petal honey: In a large Mason Jar layer a pound of raw honey with a handful of organic rose petals with their bitter white bottoms removed from each petal. Seal the jar and let sit for a day, stir, then reseal and let sit for another day. Strain the honey through a fine sieve into another Mason Jar and voila! The most fragrant honey ever for your morning tea!
And, another easy flower to start with: squash blossoms. Bonus points for growing these since they are the flowers before the zucchini arrive, and zucchini can grow in a container pretty easily on any partially sunny balcony. Honestly, a few years back my patio was so overrun with zucchini and their lovely squash blossoms I was giving them away in buckets-full.
My grandma would dip the zucchini flowers as she’d call them in a beaten egg, sprinkle them with seasoned breadcrumbs then fry them in a shallow pan for about a minute. You can toss your squash blossoms in a pan with a tablespoon or two of butter and toss for a minute then sprinkle with sea salt. Perfect!
Have fun… and even if you never let a flower pass your lips, I hope you’re a bit more inspired to make your meals look just a tiny bit more lovely. xoxo Dana