Cooking with Pansies and Violas


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 Lollipops

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.

Cooking with Pansies and Violas

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