Edible Flowers

Edible flowers are another great way to increase the beauty and productivity of the planting beds throughout your backyard. A number of plants are grown for their edible flowers, such as nasturtium, violas, and calendula, but did you know that many vegetable and herb flowers are also good to eat? Summer squash blossoms are, of course, the most well known, but here are a few more ideas for how to eat the flowers growing in your garden.

Agastache, violas, scented geranium, nasturtium, calendula, lavender, borage, and rose: Use the petals of these edible flowers as cake decoration, ravioli fillings, or sprinkled over salads.

Kale, mustard, and collard greens: Add the flower buds to stir-fries or braised greens, or cook by themselves with some olive oil and garlic.

Arugula: Arugula flowers have a sweet flavor tinged with the pepper quality of the arugula leaves and make a delicious salad ingredient.

Winter squash: The flowers can be used just like summer squash blossoms. More delicate and often not available at grocery stores, winter squash flowers are equally delicious.

Herbs such as chive, sage, basil, rosemary, thyme, savory, and so many more: They all have beautiful and tasty flowers that can be used in the kitchen. Bright blue rosemary blooms add a fun , spicy kick to winter salads.


Find the book at Johnson’s for more information

Bennett, Leslie and Stefani Bittner. (2013). The Beautiful Edible Garden. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

Edible Flowers

Recipe – Frozen Strawberry-Basil Daiquiris

Serves 8; Total volume: about 12 cups

4 cups strawberries, hulled

12 oz. (1 ½ cups) white rum

6 oz. (3/4 cup) freshly squeezed lime juice

6 oz. (3.4 cup) Simple Syrup (recipe below)

4 oz. (1/2 cup) orange liqueur

¾ cup fresh basil leaves, lightly packed, plus 8 sprigs fresh basil, for garnish (optional)

4 cups ice cubes

* for a non-alcoholic version of this recipe, exclude the white rum and orange liqueur

There’s nothing like a round of strawberry daiquiris for a beach party, and a blender makes this a snap to prepare for groups. Chilled glasses are highly recommended for this cocktail, so you’ll need to plan ahead and put them in the freezer for at least thirty minutes before serving.

Cut four of the strawberries in half for the garnish and set aside. Coarsely chop the remaining strawberries.

In a pitcher that holds at least 4 ½ cups, combine the rum, lime juice, simple syrup, and orange liqueur and stir until thoroughly blended. Working in batches if need be, combine the run mixture, chopped strawberries, basil leaves, and ice in a blender and process until smooth.

To serve, pour into chilled Margarita glasses and garnish each drink with a sprig of basil, if desired, and a strawberry half.

Simple Syrup

This basic simple syrup recipe can be used in a broad range of cocktails, and it can easily be customized by adding flavorings like spices, herbs, or tea.

1 cup sugar

8 oz. (1 cup) water

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved. When the syrup starts to boil, lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Stored in a cover container in the refrigerator, the syrup will keep for about 1 month.


Find the book at Johnson’s

Newman, Kara. (2013). Cocktails for a Crowd. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books LLC.

Recipe – Frozen Strawberry-Basil Daiquiris

Recipe – Salsa Italiana

SalsaItaliana

Makes about 3 cups

Let’s commingle cultural traditions by turning classic Mexican salsa ingredients – tomatoes, peppers, and onions – into an Italian affair with the addition of roasted garlic, fresh basil, and oregano. If you plan ahead and have a head of roasted garlic ready to use, this salsa is a cinch to make on the day of the party. Roasted garlic is a book to the calorie-conscious cook because it adds big flavor but few calories. As you’ll see, only a minuscule amount of olive oil is used in this recipe. I love to serve this salsa as a dip, but I also adore it as an accompaniment to grilled halibut skewers or pan-seared red snapper.

1 head garlic

2 cups (350 g) cherry tomatoes, stemmed and quartered

1 yellow bell pepper/capsicum, seeded, deribbed, and cut into 1/2 in dice (about 1 cup)

1/2 cup (70 g) diced red onion

1/4 cup (15 g) chopped fresh basil leaves

2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano leaves

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp kosher or sea salt

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Roast the head of garlic (see below). While the garlic is roasting, chop the vegetables and herbs.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and crushed red pepper until the salt is dissolved. Remove the warm cloves of garlic from their skins and add to the vinegar mixture. Using a fork, mash the roasted garlic until pureed smooth. Whisk in the olive oil.

3. Add the tomatoes, bell pepper/capsicum, and onion and gently mix to coat with the dressing. Fold in the basil and oregano. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover, and set aside for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld.

Dip do-ahead: This salsa can be prepared up to 8 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator 45 minutes before serving.

Roasting Garlic:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Peel the loose, papery outer layers of skin off 2 heads of garlic and trim any roots from the bottom. Cut off enough of the top of the garlic head to expose the cloves. Place each head of garlic on a sheet of foil large enough to completely enclose it, with a little extra foil left over. Drizzle each head with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Wrap the foil tightly around the bulbs, twisting it closed at the top. Place on a small rimmed baking sheet/tray and roast until the garlic feels soft when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes. Open the foil packages and bake until the garlic cloves begin to pop from their skins and brown, about 15 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let cool. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from the skins. Store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator, for up to 3 weeks.


Find more recipes in the book at Johnson’s

Morgan, Diane. (2010). Skinny Dips. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.

Photo by Sheri Giblin

Recipe – Salsa Italiana