Chefs around the world (including, of course, Italian chefs) have been cooking with edible flowers for centuries. And for good reason. Not only are edible flowers surprisingly delicious, they also add a sumptuous pop of color that enlivens any dish. Anyone who has ever tried fried squash blossoms, or fiori di zucca, can attest to the fact that flowers can be unexpectedly savory. Edible flowers are also valuable a powerful source of antioxidants like Vitamins A, E and C, and they’ve historically been used to treat a wide array of diseases.
Satisfy the Hunger for Everyday Magic
But cooking with flowers isn’t just good for you. It is a life-affirming ritual, a commitment to turning an ordinary meal into a celebration of life. When all of the kids have left for college, many of us find ourselves with a lot of extra time in the kitchen with only ourselves to feed. Without having to cook with their picky palates in mind, we also have more chances to experiment with our meals, making this the perfect time to charm and amuse ourselves by trying something new. Cooking with edible flowers tells your friends and family that this mealtime is full of moments that are special and meant to be savored, even if it’s only an average Tuesday night.
A fantastic way to start cooking with edible flowers is to start with something easy. Dried culinary lavender is a great entry into the world of edible flowers, straddling the line between blossom and herb. It’s also readily available in supermarkets with a well-stocked spice section, and a small amount will last you through dozens of culinary experiments, from lavender scented lemonade to a lavender-cocoa spice rub for lamb chops.
Roasted Lavender-Thyme Cherry Tomatoes
As winter closes in, tomatoes aren’t quite as exquisite as they were a few months ago – a problem that is easily addressed by slow roasting them with herbs and dried lavender buds.
It’s as simple as preheating the oven to 400 degrees and halving a cup of cherry tomatoes.
Toss the tomatoes in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil (eyeball it), a teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Add in a tablespoon of fresh thyme and a teaspoon of chopped dried culinary lavender. Toss to coat. Stop to notice that it already smells amazing. Transfer to a baking dish and crumble 2 ounces of goat cheese over the tomatoes. Place in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.
The roasted tomatoes are great on crusty bread or crackers as an appetizer. Or, if you’re anything like us, you serve it over a bowl of angel hair pasta drizzled with olive oil!
This is the perfect easy dinner for two. The acidic sweetness of the tomato is the perfect compliment to the fragrant lavender. We dare you not to love this.
Edible Flower Salad with a Raspberry-Shallot Dressing
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, another easy but striking way to incorporate edible flowers into your meal is to add them into a salad. You can choose any type of edible flower you prefer – or, if you’re like us, whatever type that you can get your hands on at the supermarket.
This is as simple as warming up two tablespoons of seedless raspberry preserves in a small saucepan over low heat until melted. Take the saucepan off the heat, add in ¼ cup champagne vinegar and a couple of teaspoons of dijon mustard. Combine, then whisk in ⅓ a cup of olive oil. Set aside.
Wash and chop a few handfuls of kale, then arrange in a serving bowl. If the texture of kale strikes you as a little tough, you can soften it by adding a few drops of olive oil and massaging it into the leaves with your hands. Top with the warm dressing.
All that you have left to do is wash your edible flowers and arrange them on your salad. The simplicity of the salad is a nice way to highlight your slightly exotic ingredient, but you could always choose to toss in whatever other ingredients you’d like. If you have any goat cheese leftover from your roasted tomato recipe, we certainly wouldn’t judge you for adding some into your edible flower salad!
Celebrate With Us
At Modigliani, our passion is for sharing life’s most important moments with the people who are most important to us – the awe-inspiring, funny, caring customers who make the art of Modigliani possible. You inspire us. That’s why we want to see what inspires you. Post pictures of these or any of your favorite, most enchanting dishes (edible flowers are totally optional) to Facebook or Twitter here. Let’s embrace la grande vita together.