Edible flowers have become an item at Farmers Markets.
So for a few months now, I have become smitten with them. Each week, when I think I have tried or seen them all, a new unknown variety pops up. So far I have been exploring with them mostly in salads - we start with the basics – both for the visual effects and finding pairings that would make them balance the flavors of other greens. By the same token, I have discovered or learned to re-discover a lot of said greens, which has been a fun adventure in itself. I have been hoarding salad pictures thinking there would be a point where I’d run out of reasons to take more pictures (lack of flowers etc) but that does not seem to be happening. So I’m putting up what I have so far and will make update posts as I continue to play with pretty flowers.
Nasturtiums have become a classic and made pretty decorations for lunch boxes. Peppery, they paired well with a quinoa burger.
Broccoli rabbe flowers came early in the season, and lit market stalls with their bright yellow color.
This salad combines them with kale and brown mustard frills, sprinkled with sunflower seeds. An optional pairing for this salad would be a good sheep farmers market cheese such as ricotta salata.
I kept it all aragula for aragula blossoms, adding agretti which I had never tasted before and loved at first bite. I decided to pair the greens to a really good cheddar while at the farmers market, and sprinkled with sunflower seeds.
I loved making this very french-style salad: both very pretty and very fresh, with pansies, lettuce, sliced radishes, watercress, and sliced asparagus. My french roots begged me to throw in a lovely fresh goat cheese which added both visually and in taste to this already great salad.
These cilantro blossoms were quite a surprise. They are actually very strong in flavor and need to be used sparingly.
I found good homes for them in two salads, both made with gem lettuces: the first salad with cucumber and fresh shrimps I had found at the market's sustainable fish stall;
the second salad simply with fresh radishes, which was unequivocally kid approved :).
Snow peas (left) and wild lotus blossoms (right) were lovely finds. They both have pleasant, mild and sweet tastes, while being gorgeous to the eye.
This salad combined them both with lettuce hearts, pea shoots and minutina. It was lovely and refreshing on a warm day. And I loved the (non-edible) pretty sweet Williams that I found that same day too :).
By the way:
- In NYC, Union Square Market is obviously the great resource for edible flowers, wild picks and interesting greens to use them with (e.g. agretti and minutina). Great (among other great) vendors include: Two Guys from Woodbridge, Eckerton, Norwhich Meadow, Violet Hill, Madura, Tamarack Hollow, Bodhitree, Windfall and Lani's. Great cheeses can be found at Hawthorne Valley Farm, Lynnhaven and Valley Shephard.
- Agretti are mineral rich and have a nice and fresh spinach-y taste. You will get hooked. Minutina are also more-ish, and have a lovely herb-y flavor.
- In the Bay Area, CUESA's Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and Berkeley's Farmers Market have been go to places and bring new items almost weekly. Happy Boy Farms makes convenient ready made salad mixes with nasturtiums.
- For these salads, I have tended to use light vinaigrettes, sometimes lemony, and/or slightly sweetened with honey or maple syrup, or simply olive oil, salt and pepper (as with the last salad) to avoid spoiling the subtle flavors which were beautiful on their own.
- These visually and taste-wise feasts are naturally gluten-free and low-FODMAP.