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The Cookstr 10: May Flowers: Ten Recipes in Bloom

May 20, 2011

Everyone knows that April showers bring May flowers, but you might not be so aware that May flowers can bring their note of elegance to springtime dishes both sweet and savory. From nasturtium salad to roasted chicken infused with lavender blossoms to rose petals strewn atop a luscious pavlova, edible flowers are a fantastic way to add unique texture, flavor and beauty to cooking.

Nigella Lawson's Wedding Pavlova

When preparing food with fresh flowers, it’s important to choose those that are specifically meant for eating: even edible types of flowers can be made inedible by pesticides or other chemicals. Be sure to rinse them well, like any fresh produce. Some of these recipes offer unfamiliar options for cooking with blossoms like nasturtiums and hibiscus. Some include plants, like artichokes and cauliflower, that you probably think of as vegetables, or, like garlic blossoms, chives, and lavender, as herbs. All ten of this week’s recipes provide excellent opportunities to enjoy the season’s blooms.

Deborah Schneider's Hibiscus Margarita

1. Hibiscus Margarita

 Deborah Schneider

Whether made with tequila or alcohol-free, this festive warm-weather twist on a Mexican agua fresca is sure to be refreshing indeed. The hot-pink cocktail is made with hibiscus syrup distilled from dried hibiscus flowers, which lend a tangy, fruity taste to this May margarita.

Click here for Deborah’s Hibiscus Margarita Recipe

2.  Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Herbed Cheese in Fritter Batter

This light and herbaceous antipasto recipe is a lovely and rustic take on the familiar fried squash flower. Creamy goat cheese and ricotta are set off by a tart tapenade made with green olives, anchovies, and capers.


Click here for  Jody’s Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Herbed Cheese in Fritter Batter Recipe

3.  Nasturtium and Watercress Salad

 Christopher Idone

This simple salad lets delicate nasturtium flowers shine, set atop peppery watercress tossed with olive oil and lemon juice.

Click here for  Christopher’s Nasturtium and Watercress Salad Recipe

4. Braised Baby Artichokes

 Diana Rossen Worthington

Technically, artichokes are flowers: unopened flower buds of a member of the daisy family. Baby artichokes are put to good use here, braised in tomatoes, white wine and herbs until tender. This recipe makes a satisfying side dish or appetizer, and can be served warm or chilled.

Click here for  Diana’s Braised Baby Artichokes Recipe

5.  Cauliflower Risotto
White BeansJamie Oliver

Cauliflower, like artichoke, is a vegetable that’s actually the flower bud of the plant. This recipe for a quick and delicious risotto makes the most of cauliflower’s classic pairing with parmesan cheese. Anchovies and stale bread come together to form a “pangrattato,” a savory breadcrumb topping that’s sprinkled over the dish.

Click here for Jamie’s Cauliflower Risotto Recipe

6. Herbes de Provence Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Garlic and Fennel-Stewed Lentils

Dave Lieberman

Herbes de Provence, a mixture of dried herbs invented in the 1970s, includes light purple lavender flowers in the American version. Savory, fennel, basil, thyme flowers, rosemary, bay leaf, chervil, tarragon, marjoram and mint are also likely to be included. In this rustic, peasant-style main course, the herb mixture perfumes roasted chicken while small green lentils are infused with fennel. This makes a perfect springtime dinner paired with a crusty loaf of white country bread.

Click here for Dave’s Herbes de Provence Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Garlic and Fennel-Stewed Lentils Recipe

7. Zucchini Blossom and White Corn Quesadillas

Linda Zimmerman

This spicy dish is a quick and easy supper or a great candidate for after-school snacks. Zucchini flowers are chopped and sauteed with zucchini, corn and chili peppers, then sandwiched with melted cheese between flour tortillas and grilled. Guacamole and pico de gallo can be served alongside.

Click here for Linda’s Zucchini Blossom and White Corn Quesadillas Recipe

8. Black Sole with Green Garlic

Colman Andrews

You should be able to find flowering green garlic shoots and blossoms in farmers’ markets this time of year. Less pungent than garlic cloves, they lend a more delicate and subtle flavor to the butter that moistens the pan-fried fish in this recipe.

Click here for Colman’s Black Sole with Green Garlic Recipe

9.  Fig Galette

Lora Zarubin 

This open-faced French tart is perfect for the summer months of fig season. Fresh lavender adds a floral note to the luscious filling, set inside a delicate flaky pastry crust. Served warm a la mode, this tart is elegant enough for entertaining but easy enough for everyday cooking as well.

Click here for Lora’s Fig Galette Recipe

10.  Wedding Pavlova

Nigella Lawson

Pavlova is a dessert named after the Russian ballerina, with a meringue base that has a crisp shell but a moist and fluffy interior. This version tops the meringue with soft whipped cream, passionfruit juice and pulp, and sliced peaches or nectarines. White or pale pink rose petals scattered atop the dessert are an exquisite finish.

Click here for Nigella’s Wedding Pavlova Recipe

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