Wander around most any farmer’s market in Summer and you’ll likely come across squash blossoms, just one of the dozens of edible flowers you can use to dress up a salad or garnish a Summery dish. Right now is the perfect season for these sweet and nutty flavored blossoms. Have you seen squash blossoms at your local farmers market? I encourage you to try them. And if you already have them in the garden, here’s a beautiful and flavorful way to enjoy them. Like any meal, a salad tastes best when you appreciate where it comes from and enjoy it with people you like to be around.
Squash Blossom, Avocado & Butter Lettuce Salad, Quick, delicious, and pretty, too, this salad is nice for a special warm-weather menu -with smooth, velvety textures and harmonious ingredients. Blossoms are a true delicacy -fragile and highly perishable, for best results, add them to your dish within the hour of picking.
- 1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 organic butter lettuce head, torn into large pieces
- 2 cups organic small squash blossoms, stems removed, divided
- 3 Tbsp roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
- 1 organic avocado, peeled and sliced
- sea salt & pepper to taste
- Whisk together lemon juice, oil, mustard, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
- Add lettuce, 1 1/2 cups blossoms, the sunflower seeds, and avocado and lightly toss with dressing until coated. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup blossoms on top of salad. Enjoy!
You can get squash, as well as the blossoms, if you harvest the flowers correctly. When you look at a squash flower, you’ll see that some have a tiny squash attached to the base of the flower bud before it blooms -these are the female flowers. Others have no tiny squash attached, just a thin stem leading right up to the flower with a single anther, the part of the flower that sheds powdery yellow pollen -these are male flowers. Plants often make a few male flowers before they produce their first female ones. Pick the male flowers and rub the anther against the sticky center of any open female flowers before taking the boys to the kitchen. This helps ensure that your female flowers turn into plump, flavorful fruit. If you’re not interested in the fruit, you can pick the female flowers before or just as they open and cook them whole with a little olive oil, for a real treat.
Lemonade With Violas, The perfect seasonal accompaniment to the salad would be a fresh squeezed lemonade sprinkled with Violas. Commonly known as “heartsease” for its medicinal properties, Viola tricolor has long been used as an edible flower, sprinkled on salads or as adornments for desserts. Johnny-Jump-Ups (Viola tricolor) makes a dainty plant, with pretty little white, blue, lavender, purple, and yellow-faced miniature pansy flowers. The flavour is delicate, sweet, wintergreen, and perfumed. Both the leaves and blooms are edible. Toss these cheerful little flowers into salads whole, add them to a bowl of fresh fruit, or float them atop cold drinks.
For best flavor and shelf life, pick flowers in the morning after the dew has dried, select blooms that have just opened. Carefully pinch or cut off the pistils and stamens -the parts that stick out in the center of the petals in many flowers, and the green or whitish base of each flower or petal. Common sense: Use organic, pesticide-free plants from nurseries and shops that offer organically grown flowers, pick them from a trusted friend’s organic garden, or grow your own.