Several weeks go I had the pleasure of hosting an edible flower workshop at home in my garden. We went over starting seeds, transplanting, the various edible flower varieties you can grow at home, and the ways that you can incorporate them into your food preparations. Impatiens were harvested and candied, peach and violet lemonade was sipped, snap pea seeds were sowed, and young bachelor’s buttons were transplanted into larger and more robust containers. After all our hard work in the garden, I served a tasty outdoor supper that included a wide variety of edible flowers harvested from my garden. The line up included a rhubarb endive & viola salad, roasted brussel sprouts with toasted hazelnuts & lavender, leg of lamb with a hibiscus pomegranate glaze, and rose cupcakes for dessert, which were topped with the candied impatiens we’d made earlier that afternoon.
I did have to change up the lemonade a bit, though, since the wild violets in my garden were no longer in bloom when I re-made the lemonade for this post. So instead, I used the beautiful blue rosemary blossoms that were covering my rosemary shrub. They’re incredibly popular with the bees and have the most intoxicating rosemary scent to them. They make a wonderful edible flower choice because their periwinkle shade of blue is very unique and makes for a beautiful garnish, and they taste and smell like rosemary to boot! Mixing these blossoms in with peaches and lemonade made for an incredibly light and refreshing drink, with just the right amount of sweet and tart, and a wonderfully floral rosemary flavor. Of course, if you have wild violets in bloom like I did at the workshop, feel free to substitute out the same amount of them for the rosemary blossoms.
When you’re working with edible flowers, make sure to harvest them in the morning when they’re most hydrated. If you’re not working with them right away, you can keep them in the refrigerator in between two damp sheets of paper towels for up to 2 days, but the sooner you’re able to use them, the better. You should always use organic flowers to avoid getting any pesticides in the food, and make sure to wash the flowers off well to get any unfriendly insects out of them. Also, make sure to remove any stem part of the flower unless you know for certain that the stem is edible as well. And for flowers that have large bundles of pollen like lilies, its best to remove the pistil and stamen unless you know for certain that those eating the dish don’t have allergies. Otherwise, those who have seasonal allergy issues might have an unfortunate reaction to the dish. And if getting a hold of fresh organic flowers is tricky for you, feel free to use dried flowers, too. This preservation method works particularly well with lavender, whose flavor lasts long after the drying process. I recommend checking out Mountain Rose Herbs for a nice dried flower selection. And of course, if you ever have any questions about cooking with edible flowers, feel free to shoot me an email. There’s nothing I enjoy more than talking about gardening and food at length 🙂
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Toasted Hazelnuts & Lavender
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
- 1 and ½ lbs Brussels sprouts
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon brown sugar
Toasted Hazelnuts & Lavender
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup hazelnuts
- 1 teaspoon dried lavender
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- parchment paper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. To prepare the brussel sprouts, cut them in half and then toss them with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Evenly spread them out in a baking pan and roast them for 35-40 minutes, or until they’re crisp and lightly browned on the outside and soft on the inside.
- While they're roasting, melt the butter and sugar in a medium-sized frying pan over medium heat, stirring to incorporate the sugar. Once the sugar has melted, add the nuts and stir to coat them in the mixture. Let them sit in the pan for a couple minutes until they start smelling toasty, then stir it up again. Keep stirring every few minutes until most of the nuts are lightly browned and toasted on part of their surface and the pan is very aromatic with the smell of toasted nuts. Stir in the lavender and let the pan toast for 1 minute more. Remove the pan from the heat and empty the mixture onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Smooth it out so the nuts are in one layer, then sprinkle the salt and nutmeg over the mixture. Place them in the freezer for 10 minutes to get hard and crunchy, then remove them and break the sheet of nuts apart with your hands.
- When the brussel sprouts are finished roasting, remove them from the oven and toss with the candied hazelnuts and lavender before serving.
Rhubarb Endive Salad
- 3/4 lb. rhubarb cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons raw sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup raw mixed nuts
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- Coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
- 4 cups endive leaves
- 1 cup pea shoots or sugar snap peas
- 1/2 cup fresh feta crumbled
- ½ cup violas or pansies
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place the oven racks in upper and lower thirds. Toss the rhubarb gently with the raw sugar and honey and then evenly distribute them on a baking sheet. Roast them on the upper rack until the rhubarb softens slightly and becomes fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet. On another rimmed baking sheet, toast the mixed nuts on the lower rack until aromatic, about 5 minutes. Let cool, then crush them slightly (I usually put them in a ziplock bag and then pound it with a meat tenderizer for a few beats) and toss with a pinch of salt. Set them aside.
- Whisk together the oil and cider vinegar in a large bowl, and incorporate the salt and pepper. Add the endive and pea shoots and toss lightly until evenly distributed. Top with rhubarb, mixed nuts, feta, and pansies or violas.
Peach and Rosemary Blossom Lemonade
- 6 cups water
- 1 cup honey
- 4 ripe peaches cut into 8ths
- 1 and 1/4 cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup rosemary blossoms plus a few rosemary sprigs for garnish
- Simmer the water and honey with the peach slices over medium low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the rosemary blossoms. Set aside to cool completely. Once cooled, stir in the lemon juice and pour into the serving vessel. Garnish with the rosemary sprigs and refrigerate until serving time.