I had the loveliest field trip the other night. My friend, Kim, has started her own flower business, and I got to go bug her at the farm to pick some flowers for this salad for Sparkle Stories. (For the locals, Kim is partnered up with Moon on the Meadow Farm and you can find her flowers at the farmers' market most Saturdays at their booth, as well as at the Merc).
It's like a fairy salad, is it not?
The salad below uses a mixture of borage, calendula, nigella, and nasturtium, but some other edible flowers you might find in your neck of the woods include:
- Elder Flower (petals only)
- Calendula (petals only)
- Saffron (Crocus)
The most important thing when foraging for edible flowers—other than checking a reputable source to make sure the flowers are, in fact, edible—is to make very sure that the flowers you're eating have not been sprayed with chemicals. Whether you're gathering your flowers in the wild or at a local farmers' market, be sure. (I speak from personal experience, here. I did not ask about some lavender at the farmers' market once, and spent one unforgettably horrible night on my bathroom floor feeling like the earth was spinning the wrong direction.)
Once you have ensured that your blossoms are not sprayed, however, feel free to experiment. The recipe below is for one of my favorite simple salads with a basic vinaigrette. I love the way the uncomplicated ingredients really let the flower petals shine, but feel free to swap in your own favorite veggies.
Flower-y Summer Salad
For the salad
- 1 small head butter lettuce
- 1 bulb fennel
- ½ cucumber
- 1 carrot
- 1 large handful cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup edible flower blooms
For the dressing
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
Wash all of the produce thoroughly. Cut the lettuce into 1 inch squares, and toss it into a large bowl. Chop the top few inches of the fennel fronds into the bowl as well.
If you have one, use a mandolin to carefully slice the fennel bulb, cucumber, and carrots. (If you don't have a mandolin, just use a sharp knife and get them as thin as you can.) Then, chop the cherry tomatoes in half. Add most of the fennel, cucumber, carrots, tomato, and flower blossoms to the lettuce, but reserve a little of each to garnish the top of the salad.
Next make the dressing. I find the easiest way to do this is by mixing it in a mason jar. There's no need to be precise about amounts, even--just eyeball it. Then, put a lid on the jar and shake well.
Toss the dressing with the lettuce mixture, then sprinkle the remaining veggies and flower petals on top to make your salad extra pretty. Serve immediately.