Flour is not the only kind of flower that can be used in your recipes. No, that isn’t a typo – your garden is home to some fantastic ingredients and very tasty ones at that. Summer time is awash with colour and food stuffs that are not only attractive to bees.
If you are looking to do something different with your picnic or barbecue this summer then you need look no further than your garden. Of course, the best thing about using flowers as a garnish or seasoning – they contain no calories or fat!
For a beginner the easiest thing to do is using them in a salad. Not only do they make an average salad look stunning but they add a new flavour too. Most petals have a peppery taste, others a bitter taste that accompanies the other flavours in your salad.
Rose Petals, Nasturtiums, Dandelions, sunflowers… they all have qualities that add another dimension to your cooking. They can add a sweet or spicy flavour to a classic dish and can give it a contemporary twist and a great game to play over dinner – guess the ingredient! This will have your guests guessing for hours.
A nice entrée to a meal are stuffed courgette/zucchini flowers they are delicious if they are stuffed with ricotta and chilli. Dip them in batter and fry until golden and serve with a side salad and they are different take on a traditional starter.
If you are looking for an impressive desert then look no further than this take on a classic summertime dessert Rose Petal Panna Cotta with Damson and Lavender Shortbread from Chef Francis Atkins conjures up sunny days even with just the title alone.
As a delicious accompaniment for a picnic, you can always try flat bread made with olive oil, asparagus, and cheese, topped off with chive flowers – you have created the perfect picnic pizza!
If you are feeling extra creative you can sugar frost your flowers to use as a garnish or decorate a dessert with. Violets and miniature pansies are good to use for this; of course, it takes a longer period of time but worth doing if you are looking for something a little extra special.
Flowers always look great on a cheeseboard and can be used to enhance the flavour as you would a pickle. Or as a different entrée try making goat’s cheese balls with calendula petals on top – these are a lovely contrast against the white background of the cheese and are the perfect summertime food, most of all they look and taste amazing, especially if served with crostini or crackers.
For a special table talking point why not go all out and serve an amazing cheeseboard where you can use the flowers as a garnish or embed them into the cheese. Whole brie decorated with miniature pansies will look great and very pretty and as before the petals will add a lovely peppery after taste with the cheese.
Who knew we would all have a kitchen garden right on our doorstep? Or on our windowsill for that matter! Why not share your new found love for edible flowers with someone away from home and let them know what they could be sampling? Send them a bouquet with some of the flowers in and they can try it for themselves? Plus they have a lovely surprise too!
A few things you need to remember are that not all flowers are edible so double check against a reliable source.
Another good place to buy seeds to grow your own or if you wish to buy fresh ones is ‘The Edible Flower Shop’. Remember never pick flowers that have or may have been contaminated by pesticides. The same goes for flowers on the roadside as these will have all kinds of pollution on them from passing traffic.
So you don’t have to be an artisan chef to concoct a ‘different’ meal or side dish, in fact throwing a few petals into a dish is as easy as adding a hint of herb or spice to one of your regular dishes. So this summer why not add a splash of colour and unlock a whole new world of flower food!