Edible petals: flower power

Edible petals: flower power – includes recipes

Elaine Johnson

From the garden or market, edible blossoms add a riot of color to summer salads

A rose is a rose is a rose, until it’s in your salad bowl. Then it becomes an ingredient with alluring color, delicate flavor, and Monet impact. Other edible blossoms, including herb flowers, can be equally effective.

Many palatable flower varieties, grown without pesticides and chemicals to preserve their edibility, are sold in the produce section. They may seem a bit pricey, but a few go a long way to enhance other foods. If you raise these tasty posies with identical care, you can pluck them from your own garden for dining. However, the same flowers from a florist can be harmful if consumed because of what’s added.

Edible flowers you are apt to encounter at the market are listed on page 134. Don’t experiment with other varieties without expert guidance. Some flowers are poisonous; others just taste bad. If you need a local source for edible flowers, contact HerbThyme Farms in South San Francisco at (650) 9524372 or www.herbthyme.com. They distribute throughout the West.

Rose Petal Fruit Salad

PREP TIME: About 10 minutes

NOTES: Rose flower water is available in liquor stores, Middle Eastern food markets. and fancy supermarkets.

MAKES: 6 servings

1 1/2 cups blueberries, rinsed

3 1/2 cups sliced nectarines

1/4 cup rose petals, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup Johnny-jump-ups (stems pinched off), rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar

About 1 1/2 teaspoons rose flower water

Salt (optional)

1. Arrange berries and nectarines on a platter; sprinkle flowers over fruit.

2. In a small bowl, mix vinegar with rose flower water to taste. Spoon evenly over salad. Season to taste with salt.

Per serving: 61 cal., 7.4% (4.5 cal.) from fat; 1 g protein; 0.5 g fat (0 g sat.); 15 g carbo (2.1 g fiber); 2.3 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Bouquet Mix Salad

PREP TIME: About 10 minutes

NOTES: Use a combination of flowers including Johnny-jump-ups and pansies (stems pinched off), nasturtiums (with stems), and rose petals.

MAKES: 6 servings

1/4 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel

2 quarts (6 to 8 oz.) salad mix, rinsed and drained

3 cups edible blossoms or petals (see notes), rinsed and drained

Salt and pepper

In a wide bowl, combine orange juice, lemon juice, oil, and orange peel. Add salad mix and blossoms. Mix and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Per serving: 36 cal., 58% (21 cal.) from fat; 0.6 g protein; 2.3 fat (0.3 g sat.); 3.1 g carbo (0.3 g fiber); 7.7 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Nasturtium Pasta Salad

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 20 minutes

NOTES: To cut cucumber sticks, slice cucumber into 1/8-inch-thick rounds, stack rounds, and cut into 1/4-inch-wide pieces. Rinse and drain calendula or marigold flowers, then pull off petals.

MAKES: 4 entree servings

3/4 pound dried farfalle (bow-tie) pasta

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh-ground pepper

1 cup (4 oz.) crumbled feta cheese

3/4 cup English cucumber sticks (see notes) Salt

1/2 cup calendula or marigold petals (see notes)

3 1/2 cups nasturtium blossoms, rinsed and drained

3 1/2 cups tender nasturtium leaves or butter lettuce leaves, rinsed and drained

1. Cook pasta in about 3 quarts boiling water over high heat until tender to bite, about 10 minutes. Drain, immerse in cold water, and drain when cool, about 3 minutes.

2. In large bowl, mix lemon juice, oil, and pepper. Add pasta, feta, and cucumber. Mix and season to taste with salt. Add calendula petals and nasturtium blossoms; mix gently.

3. Line a platter or plates with nasturtium leaves. Spoon salad onto leaves.

Per serving: 571 cal., 41% (234 cal.) from fat; 16 g protein; 26 g fat (7.1 g sat.); 70 g carbo (3 g fiber); 333 mg sodium; 25 mg chol.

Purple Flash Spinach Salad

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 15 minutes

NOTES: Other purple-blue flowers you can use include borage, chive, and sage. Rinse and drain flowers. Pull petals from dianthus, and blossoms from rosemary and lavender.

MAKES: 6 servings

1/3 cup slivered almonds

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 quarts (6 to 8 oz.) baby spinach leaves, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons rosemary blossoms (see notes)

1 cup purple or pink dianthus petals (see notes)

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh lavender blossoms (see notes) or 2 1/4 teaspoons dried lavender

Salt and pepper

1. In an 8- to 10-inch frying pan over medium heat, shake or stir almonds until golden, about 3 minutes. Pour from pan into a wide shallow bowl.

2. To bowl, add oil, vinegar, 1 tablespoon water, and mustard; mix.

3. Add spinach, rosemary blossoms, dianthus petals, and lavender. Mix and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Per serving: 94 cal., 83% (78 cal.) from fat; 2.6 g protein; 8.7 g fat (1 g sat.); 3.1 g carbo (1.3 g fiber); 51 mg sodium: 0 mg chol.

Strawberry-Begonia Salad

PREP TIME: About 10 minutes

MAKES: 6 servings

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

2 quarts butter lettuce leaves, rinsed and drained

2 cups strawberries, rinsed and hulled

1 1/4 cups begonia blossoms, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, rinsed and drained

Salt and pepper

1. In a wide shallow bowl, mix vinegar, honey, and lemon peel.

2. Place lettuce in bowl. Cut strawberries in 1/3-inch-thick slices and scatter over lettuce. Top with begonias and tarragon.

3. Mix salad and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Per serving: 40 cal., 9% (3.6 cal.) from fat; 1.5 g protein; 0.4 g fat (0 g sat.); 9.1 g carbo (2 g fiber): 5.7 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

[TABULAR DATA OMITTED]

Rice and Rosemary Blossom Salad

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 25 minutes, plus about 30 minutes for rice to cool

NOTES: Other suitable blue flowers are chive and sage blossoms. Garnish salad with herb sprigs of the flower you choose.

MAKES: 6 servings

1 cup long-grain white rice

About 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup walnut pieces

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup chopped chives

1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves, rinsed and drained

Salt

3 tablespoons rosemary blossoms, rinsed and drained

1. In a 3- to 4-quart pan over high heat, bring rice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 cups water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until rice is tender to bite, about 20 minutes. Scrape rice into a wide shallow bowl, fluff with a fork, and let stand until cool, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in an 8- to 10-inch frying pan over medium heat, frequently stir walnuts with 1 tablespoon oil until nuts are golden beneath skins, about 5 minutes.

3. Pour nut mixture over rice. Add remaining olive oil, and lemon juice, chives, and parsley; add salt to taste. Mix with a fork. Sprinkle salad with rosemary blossoms.

Per serving: 220 cal., 45% (99 cal.) from fat; 3.7 g protein; 11 g fat (1.3 g sat.); 27 g carbo (1 g fiber); 198 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

COPYRIGHT 1999 Sunset Publishing Corp.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group