Salad |ˈsaləd| noun
a cold dish of various mixtures of raw or cooked vegetables, usually seasoned with oil, vinegar, or other dressing and sometimes accompanied by meat, fish, or other ingredients : a green salad | bowls of salad.
• [with adj.] a mixture containing a specified ingredient served with a dressing : a red pepper filled with tuna salad | fruit salad.
• a vegetable suitable for eating raw.
ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French salade, from Provençal salada, based on Latin sal ‘salt.’
Edible Flowers Guide by Thompson & Morgan
It is surprising how many flowers growing in our gardens are edible. Edible flowers have been used for years in cooking or as decorations for various dishes. The Chinese were the first to experiment with flowers as food and their many and varied recipes can be traced back as far back as 3,000 B.C. In Roman times, the edible flowers of pinks, violets and roses were used in dishes and lavender in sauces. Gardeners and cooks over 1,000 years ago were already using pot marigolds and orange blossom in their cooking.
Today many fine restaurants around the UK and indeed the world are using more and more edible flowers to enhance salads with their colour, texture and intriguing flavours, as well as for decoration on appetisers, starters, cakes and many other dishes.
It is always best to grow your own edible flowers, and then you can be sure that they are clean, fresh and free from pests and disease. The majority of edible flowers are always best picked fresh from the garden the day you want to use them.
Growing your own also allows you to experiment and show off to dinner guests both what you have grown and what you've created with a colourful and tasty dish. As with any food and salad preparation always maintain good personal hygiene and practices.
Even if you are not keen on experimenting with salads or sauces, edible flowers make excellent garnishes which, unlike some ‘decorations' which appear in the guise of nouvelle cuisine, are actually nice to eat! Furthermore, as in Roman times, the flower garden becomes a treasure chest of delicately flavored treats to scatter on your salads or to add a ‘touch of class' to your culinary endeavours.
Chamomile Flower Salads
Dried chamomile flowers or tea bags can be turned into a "soup" for fruit salad, says Eric Bedoucha, executive pastry chef and coowner of the Financier Patisserie in New York.
- Infused in jams; chamomile is lovely with plums or other mild fruits.
- As a flavor note in a fruit-crisp topping.
Dandelion Flower Salads
Dandelions are found on all continents and have been gathered since prehistory, but the varieties cultivated for consumption are mainly native to Eurasia. A perennial plant, its leaves will grow back if the taproot is left intact. To make leaves more palatable, they are often blanched to remove bitterness. Dandelion leaves and buds have been a part of traditional Sephardic, Chinese, and Korean cuisine. In Crete, Greece, the leaves of a variety called Mari (Μαρί), Mariaki (Μαριάκι) or Koproradiko (Κοπροράδικο) are eaten by locals, either raw or boiled, in salads. Taraxacum megalorhizon, a species endemic to Crete, is eaten in the same way; it is found only at high altitudes (1000 to 1600 m.) and in fallow sites, and is called pentaramia (πενταράμια) or agrioradiko (αγριοράδικο).
Dandelions were once delicacies eaten by the Victorian gentry mostly in salads and sandwiches. Dandelion leaves contain abundant vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C and K, and are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron and manganese.
The yellow parts of the blossom are sweet, if not honey-flavored. It makes a fine homemade wine and the blossom added to salads (or pancakes) is a cheery compliment. However, trim off all green parts unless you happen to like bitter. And with all wild plants, be careful where you harvest to avoid pollution. In the language of flowers dandelion is an oracle.
METHOD OF PREPARATION: Bitter young greens in salads, slightly older leaves as a potherb, root boiled or roasted, blossoms — yellow parts only — as a flavoring for wine. Flowers dipped in batter fried (no green parts.) When you cook the leaves drop them into boiling water. They will taste better than if you warm them up in cold water. Best salad use is with cooked, cooled greens. Incidentally, the root can be roasted or boiled like a vegetable and eaten that way. It is bitter but edible. Dandelion roots were eaten by man as long as 25,000 years ago.
Dandelion Pasta Salads
- 3 cups cooked pasta
- 1-½ cups diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 cup dandelion greens, pre-cooked
- 2 wild leeks, minced, greens and all
or 2 Tbsp minced onions
- 8 olives, sliced
- 2 Tbsp vinegar
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp sea salt
Hibiscus Flower Salads
Dried hibiscus is edible, and is often a delicacy in Mexico. It can also be candied and used as a garnish.
The roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is used as a vegetable.
Certain species of hibiscus are also beginning to be used more widely as a natural source of food coloring (E163), and replacement of Red #3 / E127.
Many a hibiscus flower can go into salads and the like but most of them are virtually flavorless but they are pretty and add texture. I happen to like the False Roselle, Hibiscus acetosella, because beside the edible pink flower the leaves are edible as well, raw or cooked. I use the young leaves for salads and stir fry. They keep their color. A close relative, Hibiscus sabdariffa is the real roselle and is also known as the "Florida Cranberry" or the "Cranberry Hibiscus." A tart juice can be made from its fat calyxes. Its blossoms are edible as well.
Hibiscus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidopteran species, including Chionodes hibiscella, Hypercompe hambletoni, the nutmeg moth, and the turnip moth.
Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is an annual plant of the Aster or Sunflower family Asteraceae.
The sunflower sprouts can be juiced for green drinks or eaten whole. The unopened buds are edible cooked. They taste like artichokes, to whom they are closely related. And once the huge blossom is open the petals can be eaten, though they are bittersweet. They're often mixed with pasta.
Nearly everyone knows you can eat sunflower seeds. There are actually two general kinds of seeds. There are black seeds with a white stripe; the ones you usually buy in the store. Then there are Sunflower seeds that are smaller and totally black. Those are used for oil (and those that don't make the oil grade end up in bird seed). The seeds can be roasted and eaten as a snack or, raw, ground into a meal to thicken soups and stews. Roasted hulls can be used to make a brew similar to coffee. But there's more to eat on a sunflower than just the seeds, no matter which kind.
Sunflower "whole seed" (fruit) are sold as a snack food, raw or after roasting in ovens, with or without salt and/or seasonings added. Sunflowers can be processed into a peanut butter alternative, sunflower butter. In Germany, it is mixed with rye flour to make Sonnenblumenkernbrot (literally: sunflower whole seed bread), which is quite popular in German-speaking Europe. It is also sold as food for birds and can be used directly in cooking and salads.
Sunflower Seed Oil
Sunflower oil, extracted from the seeds, is used for cooking, as a carrier oil and to produce margarine and biodiesel, as it is cheaper than olive oil. A range of sunflower varieties exist with differing fatty acid compositions; some 'high oleic' types contain a higher level of monounsaturated fats in their oil than even olive oil. The oil is used for food, cooking, medicine and cosmetics. You can even make your own oil with an expellor.
Fuschia Flower Salads
The fuschia ovary is inferior and the fuschia fruit is a small (5–25 mm) dark reddish green, deep red, or deep purple, edible berry, containing numerous very small seeds. Many people describe the fruit as having a subtle grape flavor spiced with black pepper.
Fuchsia blossoms are edible as are the peppery grape-tasting berries which grow on long stems. The flower is a favorite garnish because of its many strong colors which can range from white to dark red, purple-blue, and orange. Their flavor is slightly acidic.
Apple Blossom Salads
Apple Blossoms (Malus species) - What most folks don't know is that you can eat apple blossoms. Apple Blossoms have a delicate floral flavor and aroma. They are a nice accompaniment to fruit dishes and can easily be candied to use as a garnish. NOTE: Eat in moderation as the flowers may contain cyanide precursors. The seeds of the apple fruit and their wild relations are poisonous. Soft scented, floral, only consume a few at a time because they contain a precursor to cyanide which gets release during digestion. A little is tasty. Too many is a tummy ache. A lot is a trip to the hospital.
Lavender Flower Salads
Add lavender flowers to salads for a pop of color. Lavender flowers provide fragrance and flavor to recipes of all types. Lavender, a member of the mint family, combines well with rosemary, oregano and thyme. When moderately measured, lavender flowers make pastries, meats and beverages come alive. Once you understand the basics of cooking with lavender, begin to explore its many flavorful possibilities. Cook with lavender for its "sweet, floral flavor, with lemon and citrus notes".
Lavender is grown as a condiment and used in salads and dressings. Flowers yield abundant nectar from which bees make a high-quality honey. Monofloral honey is produced primarily around the Mediterranean, and is marketed worldwide as a premium product. Flowers can be candied and are sometimes used as cake decorations. Lavender flavours baked goods and desserts (it pairs especially well with chocolate), and is also used to make "lavender sugar". Lavender flowers are occasionally blended with black or green teas, or made into tisanes.
Lavender lends a floral and slightly sweet flavour to most dishes, and is sometimes paired with sheep's-milk and goat's-milk cheeses. For most cooking applications the dried buds (also referred to as flowers) are used, though some chefs experiment with the leaves as well. Only the buds contain the essential oil of lavender, from which the scent and flavour of lavender are best derived.