|When planning your garden this year don't overlook
edible flowers. My favorites are nasturtium, calendula, violets, borage,
anise hyssop, chive blossoms and roses. Always make sure you grow your
edible blooms chemical free and in a sheltered spot that won't be
exposed to chemicals that may be used by neighbors or on the lawn if
they are used there.
You can use any of the above in ice cubes or rings, as a garnish for drinks or as cake decorations. Mix them into salads or top open faced tea sandwiches with a bloom or two. The possibilities are endless. When using the blooms as garnish pick the flowers as close to serving time as possible.
A note on sweet pea, Lathyrus odoratus- the blossoms are NOT edible! Sweet peas are toxic so don't confuse these blooms with the white, or lightly colored snow pea or sugar snap pea blossoms, which are edible and can be added to salads. Just remember that any blooms you use will mean less peas, so plant extra!
Try the following recipes:
Summer Floral Salad
On four salad plates divide the greens, top with VERY thin slices of cucumber and red onion. Next sprinkle snipped chives over this, and place 3-4 cherry tomatoes on each plate. Top this with some each of the flowers and sprinkle with cheese. Serve a light Italian dressing and/or a raspberry vinaigrette on the side. NOTE: In the spring you can make the same salad but substitute chive blossoms (I pull the petals out rather than serve whole), and violets.
Wash the chive flowers in a colander and dry on paper towel or in a salad spinner. Remove the petals and chop with a very sharp knife. Note that there is a stem to the chive blossoms that is very thick and rather hard. I dispose of the stem...use the chives that don't have blooms for the chives to chop. Mix all together with a wooden spoon until combined and put in a covered container or shape into a roll and wrap in plastic wrap. Use on vegetables, seafood, hot bread, scones or rolls.
What is edible in your garden that you pass up each year?
Probably quite a few things! The young leaves of carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, rutabaga and radish are all edible and can be added to salads or cooked as greens.
Peas are another overlooked edible plant. The vine tips and the blooms are edible and can be added to salads. (Don't confuse garden peas with ornamental sweet peas which are poisonous!) There are even more: cucumber, apple, scarlet runner bean and squash blossoms-which are well known for stuffing and eating. It makes you take a second look at your garden once you realize so much more of it is edible.
The catch? You need to make sure you are gardening without chemicals, and that anything you eat is free of animal waste or anything else that may contaminate it. Plus, the vegetable and fruits I listed here are on the safe list, but sometimes you may see a mention of a plant, flower or herb that you just aren't sure about. Better to be safe than sorry, so don't eat anything you are in doubt about.
Vegetable Blossom Soup
Garnish: Chives, Chervil or other herbs
Remove any stamens from the blossoms. Set aside. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are softened. Reduce the heat to low, add the salt, pepper and squash blossoms and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add the stock, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve hot, garnished with herbs.