Botanical Name: Viola (both pansies and violas)
Nicknames: Call me to you, pink-eyed-John, love true (pansies), Johnny-jump-ups (violas)
Language of Flowers: Both pansies and violas signify loving thoughts
Background: Pansy’s name comes from the French pensee meaning “thought,” because the flower resembles a face deep in thought.
Pansies appear in German legend as once having had a sweet scent that would draw people in to smell from miles away; the grass that served as feed for cattle became trampled, so they pansy prayed to God for help and was granted great beauty but no scent.
Another interesting Arthurian tale features pansies as fortunetellers. It was said that a knight would look to a pansy petal for a glimpse into his future. Thick left-leaning lines foretold a life of trouble, whereas right-leaning lines predicted prosperity and good fortune. The number of lines told of luck in love (or lack thereof).
Culinary Uses: Pansies and violas have a mild, slightly lemony taste with a wintergreen note. They are popularly used in salads and as decoration on soft cheeses.
Seasonality: Pansies and violas are the lovely unassuming heralds of spring. One of the first flowers to make an appearance in flowerpots and beds, pansies and violas beckon us with their facelike features. Blooming in spring throughout summer and into fall, pansies can be purchased at garden centers, nurseries, and even supermarkets; they can be grown in pots or in the ground.
Preparation: Separate each pansy or viola flower from its sepal (green base), then wash and pat dry.
Measure: 1 cup pansies = about 50 to 70 flowers (used whole).
Pansy and Viola recipes include:
Pansy Petal Pancakes
Pansy Tea Sandwiches
Pansy Rhubarb Galettes
Find the recipes in the book at Johnson’s:
Bacher, Miche.(2013). Cooking with Flowers. Philadelpha, PA: Quirk Books.