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Flower Power

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Look to edible flowers to add beauty, flavour, and elegance to healthy seasonal dishes. These six recipes will help you create not only pretty plates but delectable meals, perfectly suited for summer eating. Read on to discover delightful flavours, pretty plates, and a bouquet of benefits.

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Mixed Greens with Pea, Asparagus, Sorrel, Radish, and Bachelor’s Buttons

Mixed Greens with Pea, Asparagus, Sorrel, Radish, and Bachelor’s Buttons

Pretty on the plate, this salad of delicate greens contains bright, juicy, tart sorrel; crisp radish; and delicate bachelor’s buttons. Despite the blue, pink, and purple hues of bachelor’s buttons, also known as cornflowers, their flavour is fresh and green. The dressing comes together with a bachelor’s button vinegar made in advance by infusing the flower heads into apple cider vinegar for a bright, subtly sweet flavour. If you can’t find bachelor’s buttons, you can use nasturtium or violas.

Tomato, Watermelon, and Marigold Gazpacho

When the heat of summer has you ready to wilt, this refreshing summer gazpacho with watermelon, tomatoes, and almond is guaranteed to cool you down. Marigold petals are used to make a slightly spicy, peppery oil with mild notes of citrus; it’s used in the soup and as a beautiful edible garnish. Avoid the bases or “heels” of marigold flowers, as they can be quite bitter.

Steamed Mussels with Alyssum and Tomato Fennel Relish

These mussels make an elegant and alluring cold appetizer that will stretch to feed a crowd. The classic combination of fennel and tomatoes is enlivened with a floral vinegar, prepared in advance. Alyssum has a peppery, aniselike flavour and, like fennel, pairs well with tomatoes.

Saffron Quinoa with Almonds and Currants

There’s one flower you may already have in your pantry. The thin red threads we know as saffron are the stigmas pulled from the centre of the saffron crocus. Saffron brings bright colour and subtle earthy and slightly grassy floral flavours to dishes and is frequently used in rice dishes of all kinds—from biryani to paella and risotto. Here, saffron is used with cinnamon, cloves, and orange to lend flavour and colour to quinoa along with a classic combination of almonds and currants.

Rack of Lamb with Lavender, Thyme, and Rosemary Rub, and Blueberry Lavender Jus

Just as lavender grows alongside thyme and rosemary, it is often included with these herbs in the French dried herb mix called herbes de Provence, a classic seasoning for lamb. This recipe gets a double dose of lavender by using it first in a similarly inspired fresh herb rub to season lamb prior to cooking and then with the addition of a blueberry jus amped up with fragrant lavender. Dried lavender works best in this recipe; find it in your local specialty grocery and make sure to look for products marked “culinary grade.”

Cherry, Pistachio, and Rose Petal Parfait with Cardamom Yogurt

The simplicity of this layered dessert hides its deeper and more complex aromatic flavours. A cherry compote subtly scented with rose makes an exquisite combination with cardamom yogurt and a topping of ground pistachios and dried rose petals. When buying rose petals, look for dried ones grown for edible use.

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Going Pro

You might think of protein as something you mainly get from a meal and, therefore, not a component of dessert. But, if you’re going to opt for dessert from time to time, why not consider working in ingredients that go big on this important macronutrient? It’s easier (and more delicious) than you may think! Protein is an essential part of every cell in your body and plays a starring role in bone, muscle, and skin health. So, certainly, you want to make sure you’re eating enough. And it’s best to spread protein intake throughout the day, since your body needs a continual supply. This is why it can be a great idea to try to include protein in your desserts. When protein is provided in sufficient amounts in a dessert, it may help you feel more satiated and help temper blood sugar swings. Plus, in many cases, that protein comes in a package of other nutritional benefits. For instance, if you’re eating a dessert made with protein-packed Greek yogurt, you’re not just getting protein; you’re getting all the yogurt’s bone-benefitting calcium and immune-boosting probiotics, too. Adding nuts to your dessert doesn’t just provide plant-based protein, but it also provides heart-healthy fats. Yes, desserts need not be just empty calories. Ready for a treat? These protein-filled desserts with a healthy twist are dietitian-approved—and delicious.