Edible flowers make colorful garnishes that update a favorite dish, but they also take center stage in recipes perfect for parties. Get in on this restaurant trend by buying edible flowers at specialty markets, or growing your own chives, nasturtium, borage and more in pots, or tucked between vegetables in a garden. A bonus: In summer, your homegrown blossoms will also attract much-needed pollinators like honeybees and butterflies.
The most common use for edible flowers requires no recipe: Simply garnish your favorite composed salad with fresh blossoms. We kicked up a salad of smoked salmon atop a bed of greens with radish flowers and a sprinkling of potent Szechuan buzz buttons. To add punch to a simple tomato salad with cucumbers and red onion, we added borage and onion flowers.
Check out these recipes and more from our story in Virginia Living magazine. Image by Fred + Elliott photo. Recipes by Chef J Frank.
3 cups nasturtium leaves and stems
1 cup basil leaves
1 cup nasturtium flowers
4 cloves garlic
1 cup walnuts
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ½ cups olive oil
salt to taste
To make the pesto, wash and dry nasturtium and basil leaves and nasturtium flowers. Lightly toast the walnuts. Coarsely chop nasturtium and basil leaves, nasturtium flowers and garlic. Place chopped items in a food processor and add walnuts and cheese. Pulse until it forms a paste, scraping down the sides. While the processor is running, slowly add the olive oil. Finish pesto with lemon juice. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.
For the shrimp risotto:
4 tablespoons butter, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 ½ cups dry white wine
1 cup Arborio rice
4 cups chicken stock
juice of one lemon
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt and pepper to taste
In a large, deep saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Over medium heat, add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add half the garlic, cook 1-2 minutes more, then add rice and mix well. Add 1 cup white wine and cook, stirring often, until almost absorbed. Stirring constantly, add hot chicken stock in batches of ½ cup at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the chicken stock completely after each addition. Season with salt and pepper.
In a large pan, melt remaining butter and olive oil. Add garlic, lemon juice, and shrimp and cook 3-4 minutes. Add remaining white wine. Season with salt and pepper then add to risotto. For a lighter color and flavor, add about ¼ cup of pesto and blend well (or add more to taste). Cover any leftover pesto with a film of olive oil and store in the refrigerator.
For more ways to use edible flowers, read the story on Virginia Living.