Friday, April 1, 2011

Edible Flower Butter and Pesto

It looks like spring may finally be arriving, and gardening is becoming a fun and exciting exercise again. When planning a vegetable garden, it's nice to save room for some edible flowers. What the bees love for their nectar, we love for their bright colors and decorative potential at the dinner table, so there is a double bonus to including them in plans for the garden.

A friend recently asked me for the flower butter recipe which has inspired me to think about which ones to include in my garden this year. In addition to the butter and pesto, the petals can be tossed in salads and used to garnish desserts and plates.

Flower Petal Butter and Pesto

Very seasonal dishes, but fun to do if you have lots of edible flower blossoms. Check a list and make sure that what is bloomin’ is safe for human! These look and taste great on pasta, fish, or ???

Flower Petal Butter

Soften and whip up in food processor until creamy:
1 lb. unsalted Butter

1 cup fresh Basil, chopped (optional)
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice

Fold in gently:
2-3 cups fresh Flower Petals, washed, picked over, and coarsely chopped

Roll into cylinder. Wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate or freeze to use as wanted.

Toss with fresh pasta or melt over steamed veggies.

You can add the flowers at the end of processing and pulse once or twice, but I find the flowers can be chopped too much very quickly. It remains a matter of personal preference, however.

Flower Petal Pesto

Process to a paste in the blender:

4 cups fresh Basil Leaves
1/4 cup fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp. Salt
4 Tbsp. Pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup Olive Oil

Lightly chop and combine in bowl with basil mixture:
6 cups fresh organically grown Flower Petals, rinsed, checked for critters

Fold in:
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese or sprinkle lightly over the top,
letting each long strand to remain distinct from the others around it.
Toss with your favorite pasta shape and sprinkle with flowers and more Parmesan cheese..

A Partial list of Edible Flowers

Rose, Nasturtium, Borage, Flowers of edible herbs—sage, thyme, rosemary, etc., Pansies, Violets, Geraniums, Chrysanthemums, Calendula

There are many lists of edible flowers on the Internet.  Here are links to a few: What's Cooking America, Edible Flowers has lots of full-color photos , North Carolina State University Horticultural Dept. has information on edible flowers and culturing them in the garden,, the large cooking site, has a glossary of edible flowers which has some exotics thrown in among the more common, in case you are lucky enough to have ginger or hibiscus flowers.