Flowers give most of us great joy. When I started gardening, my goal was to have flowers that I could cut and take into the house instead of going to the florist. That goal soon fell by the wayside. The flowers looked so beautiful in the garden that I couldn’t bear to cut them.
We rarely think of flowers as part of our cuisine. Did you realize that artichokes are the unopened buds of the flowers? Daylily buds taste a bit like asparagus or green peppers.
The blossoms of many pretty and popular plants are also edible and good tasting. Well-known edible flowers include nasturtiums, roses, violas, Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon), and Monarda (Beebalm) but those of arugula, cilantro, thyme, lavender,
dill, basil, and sage are also tasty. Some vegetable flowers are also quite tasty.
In fact, fried squash blossoms are a staple of Mexican and Italian cuisine.
Renee Shepherd of Renee’s Garden has written two cookbooks that concentrate on recipes for vegetables and edible flowers. Some of them can be found on her website, www.reneesgarden.com. The two that appealed immediately to me were Lavender Shortbread and Zucchini Rellenos as well as her Edible Blossom Tea Sandwiches. I’m crazy about lavender and about Mexican food and we all know that there aren’t enough ways to use up zucchini. I assume that Renee won’t mind if I share one of her recipes with you.
Edible Blossom Tea Sandwiches
One large cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
8 ounces cream cheese (“light” style OK) at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped chives or scallions
Thinly sliced cracked wheat or white bread, crusts removed
Lots of edible blossoms: nasturtiums, chives, borage, calendula, bean flowers or herb blossoms, rinsed and patted dry
Squeeze chopped cucumber in a kitchen towel to remove as much moisture as possible; set aside. Blend the cream cheese, seasonings and chives or scallions. Add cucumber and combine well but do not overmix. Spread on bread and cut into finger-sized open sandwiches.
To serve: Decorate the tops of the sandwiches with petals of various edible flowers.