Edible flowers add whimsy and color to summer fare

Something is usually blooming from April to October in my neck of the woods. Tiny violets burst thru the moss and early grasses in my backyard at the same time that dandelions offer the first bitter greens of the season. Then the succession begins in earnest both in the garden and in the wild. Pansies, daisies, roses, daylilies, lilac, lavender, butterfly weed, and dianthus are easy to identify. They are followed by nasturtiums, marigold, hibiscus, and many flowering herbs like mint, basil, thyme, and oregano. I like to pull apart garlic chive blossoms and sprinkle them over a vegetable frittata or stir the flowers of spring chives into beaten eggs for a blue flower omelet.

It's my belief that you eat first with your eyes and I like to dress up a plate with something that reinforces its flavor profile. I want everything on that plate to be edible too, including the garnish. Flowers make a lovely spot of color on a plate. If they taste fine too they become a more integral part of the dish.


This very simple appetizer consists of only three basic ingredients. It's hardly a recipe.

Begin by shaping a soft goat cheese around a seedless red grape. Use about a scant tablespoon of cheese for each grape. Chill the coated grapes for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. If you need to hold them longer cover them well with plastic wrap.

Just before serving, roll each individual ball in a plate of flower petals. I have used a combination of dianthus, viola, and marigolds. Other small petaled edible flowers work well also.

You could use daisy, nasturtium, sage flower, bee balm, or borage to name a few. Once the balls are coated in petals they should be served immediately.



These smoked salmon and butterfly weed hors d'oeurvres are formed on a rice cracker to make them a crispy gluten-free bite of summer. Spread each rice cracker with a bit of soft herbed Boursin cheese. Cover with a sliver of smoked salmon. Add a few blossoms from Asclepias tuberosa, a type of milkweed attractive to butterflies. Top it off with some fresh dill and serve right away.



And finally, these tiny tarts are made from a crumbly crust that combines Medjool dates, chopped pecans, and dried grated coconut. Push the crumble crust into mini muffin cups that you have sprayed with a bit of avocado oil so the tart will slip out easily when the time comes. Fill them with whipped heavy cream, either cows or coconut, into which you have folded some drained crushed pineapple. Chill well until serving time. Top each with a fresh raspberry, a small sprig of mint, and a fresh violet flower.

If you missed the violet season you could use any small whole edible flower or the petals from something larger. Sometimes just one petal is all you need to add a burst of color.


Think of edible flowers as garnishes for a dish. Most of them add more color than flavor. Although a few do add some spiciness- esp flowers from culinary herbs like chive blossoms and sage flowers. Nasturtiums add pepperiness. Marigolds taste a bit savory and slightly bitter. I think these are best for nonsweet dishes. I always just use the petals and never serve a whole flower.


Here is a list of some very familiar edible flowers that are generally easy to grow in a home garden. Never eat sprayed blossoms or those growing roadside. Go organic and save the bees who need them desperately.


Roses and rose hips,

Batchelor buttons,

dianthus,

calendula,

violet

lilac flowers,

chive blossoms

day lily,

marigold,

viola,

pansy,

apple blossoms,

bee balm,

mint,

sage,

basil,

coriander,

tulips ( NOT daffodils),

borage,

hibiscus,

chamomile,

lavender.