Edible flowers add beauty to meals

April 7, 2014

April/May 2014 Issue, Recipes

Edible flowers add beauty to meals

Edible flower petals can be used in salads for color, for flavor in teas and as a beautiful garnish for desserts.

Edible flower petals can be used in salads for color, for flavor in teas and as a beautiful garnish for desserts.

by Joanne Henning Tedesco — 

We most often think of using flowers as the centerpiece on the dinner table. Today, edible flowers can be added as a garnish to make any dish the highlight of your meals. However, use flowers sparingly in your recipes, particularly if you are not accustomed to eating them.

Edible flower petals can be used in salads for color, for flavor in teas and as a beautiful garnish for desserts. Add them to homemade ice cream or use them to make a floral simple syrup for use in lemonade or cocktails. You can also use chive blossoms in pasta dough or stuff squash blossoms with rice. One of my favorite uses is to freeze whole small flowers into ice rings or cubes for a pretty addition to punches and other beverages.

Sprinkle a few edible flowers in salads, use in flavored oils, vinaigrettes, jellies and marinades, but never use non-edible flowers as a garnish. You must assume that if guests find a flower on a plate of food, they may eat it.

It is important to make sure the flower’s flavor complements what it is served with and use only flowers you know to be safe to eat. If you are uncertain, consult a reference book on edible flowers and plants. Use only flowers that you have grown yourself, that have not been around pesticides or herbicides, and that you know are safe for consumption. You may also be able to buy them at your local farmers’ markets. Again, be sure the flowers have been grown without the use of pesticides.

 

Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Rice

Ingredients:

  • 20 organic zucchini flowers
  • 3/4 cup white rice
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped mint leaves
  • 1 ounce onion, grated
  • 1 ounce zucchini, grated
  • 1 ounce tomato, grated
  • 3/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 pinches salt and pepper

Preparation:

Place the organic zucchini flowers in cold water to open and make the preparation easier. In a large mixing bowl place the rice, all the chopped and grated ingredients, half the olive oil and lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well. With a small spoon, take small amounts of the stuffing and fill the zucchini flowers. Fold over the ends to seal in the stuffing. Place the flowers on the bottom of a large saucepan, with the openings facing the bottom. Pour in enough water to cover. Add 1 pinch of salt, 1 pinch of pepper and the rest of the olive oil and lemon juice. Cover and simmer gently for about 40 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Yield: 4 servings.

 

Fried Squash Blossoms

Ingredients:

  • 12 squash, pumpkin or zucchini blossoms
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 5 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Parsley for garnish, optional

Preparation:

Clean the pumpkin or zucchini squash blossoms, removing the stems, if desired, and the small green spikes at the base. Press the hard bulbs to flatten, then separate and extend the petals until the flower shape is visible. Dip the flowers in the egg, then in the breadcrumbs. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry six flowers at a time until crisp and golden; change the oil if necessary between batches. Drain on paper towels. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired. Yield: 6 servings.

 

Grilled Salmon with Nasturtium Vinaigrette 

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup shallots, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 cup chopped organic nasturtium flowers
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 4 boneless salmon fillets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Chives for garnish

Preparation:

Preheat grill or broiler. Whisk together vinegar, shallots, olive oil and dill weed until combined. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the organic nasturtium flowers and chives. Rub salmon fillets with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Grill or broil salmon about 4 minutes per side, depending on thickness, but do not overcook. Whisk the nasturtium vinaigrette briefly to recombine, then spoon it over salmon. Garnish with chopped chives. Yield: 4 servings.

 

Green Salad with Edible Flowers

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 5-1/2 ounces tender baby salad greens (about 12 cups)
  • 1 package (50-count) unsprayed violas (small pansies) or other edible flowers

Preparation:

Combine vinegar and mustard in a bowl. Gradually whisk in oil, then season dressing with salt and pepper. Toss dressing with greens and top with flowers. Serve immediately. Yield: 6 servings.

 

Sources: bonappetit.com, gourmet.com and Joanne’s recipe box.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 33, Number 2, April/May 2014.

 

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