From Lisa Barnes
My son has always been an adventurous eater (think mussels, clams, shitake mushrooms), and luckily (in the eating arena) my daughter does everything her big brother does. Although sometimes I worry they will eat something they shouldn’t while exploring outside, such as a poison mushroom or wild cherry that is not edible. I’ve explained many times about eating things not purchased from a store, or farmer’s market. However from as young as I can remember my son would eat rosemary and fennel from the neighbors’ yard or pick wild blackberries from vines on the road.
Last month the Sunset Magazine arrived with a beautiful salad on the cover. Like most photos of foods, my son sees it and asks “can we make that?” But then asks “are those flowers?” I explain they are edible flowers. This however really peaks his interest and I realize I may be in for some trouble. I read the recipe and the article about growing edible flowers and promise to make the salad for Easter. I thought it was perfect since it was so beautiful, plus I’d been assigned salad for my family’s gathering.
Unfortunately I had to disappoint my son (and myself). I couldn’t find the edible flowers anywhere. No stores in the Bay Area were able to get their supply in time for Easter. For reasons I don’t know. I explained to my son we would find them for another time.
We were at the farmer’s market a few weeks later and there they were – Calendulas. My son was longingly looking at them with a “can we, can we?” The grower said to go ahead and try it (but cautioned just to eat the petals). My son of course liked them (his sister seemed to as well) and we were off to make the salad.
Surprisingly my daughter was more excited about actually making the salad (she loved pulling off the petals). But I must say it was beautiful and tasty (although I credit mostly the dressing and fresh spring peas) and worth the wait. I’m dreaming of planting them myself to be able to find them when I need them next year. (However like the house was a fixer, so is the yard – so stay tuned) In the meantime I’m researching and reading (especially Rosalind and Gene) and have started our gardening foray with some small lettuces, tomatoes and herbs…
Here’s a variation of Sunset’s “Blooming Salad”
2 ½ tbsp. organic Safflower or canola oil
½ tsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. minced tarragon
Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl.
Rinse and dry handfuls of mache, mesclun and chervil sprigs and out in a large glass bowl.
Add slices of Persian cucumber, sugar snap peas and radish slices
Drizzle vinaigrette over salad and toss.
Pull petals from organic edible flowers* such as calendulas, nasturtiums, bachelor’s buttons, borage and violas and sprinkle over salad.
See also Lisa’s two new books out now at local bookstores:
Cooking for Baby: Wholesome, Homemade, Delicious Foods for 6 to 18 Months
Eat, Drink and Be Merry: Easy, Organic Snacks, Beverages, and Party Foods For Kids of all Ages.
… and Bay Area’s New Crop of Gardeners Digging In→
*Edible Flower Disclaimer
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, and lives in Sausalito, California.