It’s still spring in the garden. I’ve satisfied my winter cravings for fresh lettuce and spinach. The spears of asparagus keep on coming – it still amazes me to see more and more emerge every morning. Green salads have dominated my lunches and dinners for nearly a month now. My early spring seasonal stomach, in other words, has been satiated.
Now I’m starting to yearn for peas and other early fruiting crops. As I watch teeny pods emerge from polinated pea blossoms and slowly grow larger and larger, I’ve decided to distract myself with the many edible blossoms that are now blooming in the herb and veggie gardens.
Cooking with flowers adds flavor and beauty to dishes. Many herb flowers are edible and have tastes similar to their familiar leaves. Legumes like peas and beans have sweet mild blossoms. Chive blossoms can substitute for red onions in a salad. To broaden my repetoir, I checked out edible flower lists online. Remember to make sure a flower is not poisonous before eating! I was surprised to find so many familiar and common species on the list. Check out my experiments below and let me know if you have other ideas for using edible flowers in your cooking:
Sage blossoms are slightly more mild than the leaves and are great additions to chicken, white fish, sausage, or white bean dishes.
I used these purple sage, chive, and thyme blossoms along with dill, yogurt, garlic, chives, olive oil, salt, and pepper to flavor our cannelloni bean and cooked chard salad.
A pea tendril, chive blossom, and dill leaves garnished my white bean chard salad. I also tried frying some of the herb blossoms in olive oil (they’re the toasty brown things above). Overall, I think fresh blossoms add better flavor and color to finished recipes.
Chive blossoms added an onion flavor to this simple salad. Pea tendrils were beautiful, tender, and delicious. Our sugar sprint tendrils have pink and purple hued blossoms while the traditional sugar snaps flowers are white. Their mild pea flavor added depth to the simple lettuce salad. Remember though, when you harvest pea blossoms, they’ll never grow into peas!
Flowering plants have the added benefit of attracting pollinators to your vegetable gardens. All fruiting produce including peas, beans, peppers, squash and tomatoes need to flower and be pollinated before they can bear fruit.
Borage blossoms are mild and have a slight cucumber flavor. They have the added benefit of attracting beneficial predatory wasps to your garden. These wasps prey on garden pests and help to keep your veggies healthy.
After browsing the list of edible flowers, I’m excited to integrate johnny jump-ups, anise hyssop, bean, and squash blossoms into meals as they come into season. Let me know if you find any blossoms that you love or if you have other recipes that integrate edible flowers!