Blossom-laden boughs overhead; buds pushing out of the earth below. Spring flowers signal renewal, and they’re inspiring us to refresh every recipe. We're not talking about a few petals sprinkled on spring mix. We're taking all our culinary cues from the shapes, flavours, and head-turning good looks of edible flowers.
Celery hearts as roses? Tulips as ice cream cones? We’re just getting started with the perennially popular floral motif.
1. In salad rolls straight out of a fairytale
Who needs a glass slipper when you’ve got the gossamer salad roll of your dreams?
Rice paper wrappers have a lot going for them. They’re low-calorie (30 to 40 calories each compared to 150 calories in a flour tortilla). They actually stay intact when rolled (we’re looking at you, lettuce wraps). And they’re translucent, allowing whatever’s inside of them to entice us. We’re swooning over salad rolls stuffed with fresh spring veg and edible flowers.
Try prettying up these Quinoa Spring Rolls with nasturtiums or violets—just be sure to place the flowers on the wrapper before any other ingredients so they show through.
2. As poor-man’s saffron
The taste of marigolds closely resembles saffron, and their golden petals even look a bit like saffron threads. Take advantage of this delicious doppelgänger by making Marigold Baked Eggs, a one-pan family meal that looks fancy but is actually easy.
3. To make DIY coffee
Spring is the best time to experiment with dandelion “coffee,” a healthy, caffeine-free alternative to the daily double-double. Dandelion roots are at their flavour peak before the flower develops. Wash, slice, steam, and roast until they’re a deep, chocolaty brown. You can find detailed instructions here.
4. For next-level sushi
Who has time for labour-intensive garnish? In a matter of seconds, you can take your sushi presentation from blah to botanical by making a rose out of your pickled ginger (bonus points if you etch some wasabi leaves with a toothpick). Not a fan of the food dye in commercially prepared pickled ginger? Make your own—it pickles in just 24 hours.
5. As healthy “icing”
Cookies are indulgent enough without adding calorific icing. But icing-less cookies can look a little boring. With only egg whites and pansies, you can bake your decoration right into the tops of your cookies. Try it out in these Sugared Blossom Cookies.
You can also use this trick with breakfast crepes. Just make a basic crepe recipe as usual (don’t add flowers during mixing). Lightly grease and warm a frying pan. Pour about 1/4 cup (60 mL) batter into the pan, swirl it around, and let it cook for 1 minute. Add your flowers (pansies work well), flip, and cook the other side (the one with the pansies) for about 30 seconds. This easy blueberry filling complements the deep purple of the pansies perfectly.
Ready to get started? Remember to use only pesticide-free, organic flowers that have been properly identified as edible. Want more ideas? Check out this primer on popular edible flowers.