Brighten Up Your Greens With Edible Flowers
Daylily and Chive Blossom Salad with Nasturtium Vinaigrette
Edible flowers have reappeared in restaurants, confectioneries, and cocktails in recent years, from sugared lilacs on cupcakes to Elderflowers dangling from the rims of cocktail glasses. Because of the color and subtle flavor they add to a simple green salad, floral edibles have been mounting intrigue amongst plant-lovers and foodies alike — but flowers can still be intimidating for the home cook who isn’t used to plating food with tweezers or squeeze bottles. The good news is, cooking with Flowers is easy: petals are both eye-catching and subtle additions to any plant-based dish, and the product is easy to find if you know where to look. Try this Daylily and Chive Blossom salad for a creative take on the colors (and taste) of Spring.
Beautiful yellow and orange Daylilies can be found in almost every state in the United States. The petals can be removed and left individually for a rustic presentation, or they can be torn or cut lengthwise for a modern look. The petals have a slightly sweet but “green” flavor with the softness and tensile strength of the skin of a nectarine. The small green buds are also delicious sautéed in butter or olive oil, but the rest of plant shouldn’t be consumed. (For the salad below we’ll use the petals.)
Chive blossoms look like edible pompoms, with a subtle flavor similar to onion, only sweeter. The full bloom can be a pretty strange texture, so try breaking it up and sprinkling liberally like oregano on a pizza.
Nasturtium are some of the most popular edible flowers; they have a peppery flavor similar to watercress and add fantastic color to any salad.
Shop / Grow / Find
In a wild field or at a chic Manhattan florist, Latin names are the way to go in making sure that you’re picking the right bloom. Be wary of decorative florals that are sprayed with pesticides, and look for florists who offer organic flowers on slowflorists.com. Specialty grocers may carry edible flowers in the late spring as well, but they can be expensive and rarely offer much variety. Daylilies, Nasturtiums and Chive Blossoms all grow widely in the US, so try your local farmers market first — but of course, the best way to gather a supply of lovely edibles is to grow them yourself (just make sure you are planting the right flower according to the Latin name (Nasturtiums are Nasturtium officinale and Daylilies are hemerocallis fulva). If all else fails, Gourmet Sweet Botanicals and Marx Foods have great variety and can deliver to your door.
Clean / Prep / Eat
Flowers and petals should be immersed in cold water and gently circulated to rinse (You need to be gentle with flowers, which are more fragile than your average green. Lay them out on paper or cloth to dry before using. Like all greens, it is best to clean flowers before storing them in the refrigerator.
Scottish heather honey is significantly less sweet than wildflower varieties and has a decidedly herbal flavor with notes of sage and lavender. Marrying citrus with the peppery pop of Nasturtium makes a vinaigrette suitable for any summer salad or even a light protein(salmon or poultry). Vinaigrettes are also a great way to preserve the flowers if you over-gather.
Heather Honey and Nasturtium Vinaigrette:
- 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp Heather honey
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, minced or crushed
- 2 Tbsp fresh Nasturtium blooms – petals ripped apart by hand
- 1 large pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients except the Nasturtium and whisk briskly. Add Nasturtium and mix gently. Let stand for at least 30 minutes; storing in the refrigerator. Take out 15 minutes before use. (In a well sealed bottle, this vinaigrette can last in the refrigerator for up to 4 months.)
Daylily and Chive Blossom Salad:
- 3 Cups green leaf lettuce, cut into ribbons
- 1 Head of endive, chopped horizontally
- 4 Medium radishes, halved and sliced thin
- 1 Cup daylily petals, cleaned and removed from plant
- ½ Cup chive blossoms, broken
Toss chopped endive and one-half of the Chive blossoms, Daylilies, and green leaf by hand in a bowl. Drizzle the vinaigrette lightly over top and shake the bowl as you go. Top with the remaining chive blossom and Daylilies and enjoy a little taste of Spring!