How to cook with nasturtiums, squash blossoms and more edible flowers.

Jerry Traunfeld

Flowers are poetic, sentimental, romantic and ephemeral. And some of them taste good too. Azure-blue sage blossoms carry the aroma of the leaf, but softer and sweeter: just the thing to sprinkle over green peas. Blazing orange nasturtiums have a peppery bite and will dazzle any salad. At my restaurant in Seattle, Poppy, I find that cooking with flowers can add color and unique flavor to any meal. My kitchen garden is packed with delicious, delicate blossoms: pink globes of chive, hearty kale flowers, edible ornamentals like violets or lavender. It's a pleasure to bring such beauty to my table.

Edible Flower Tips:

  • • Bear in mind that not all flowers are edible. Some are quite poisonous, so do your research first.
  • • Don't eat florist flowers-they are often loaded with pesticides.

Edible Flowers to Try:

  • borage
  • calendula
  • chive flowers
  • fennel flowers
  • lavender
  • kale flowers
  • monarda
  • nasturtiums
  • pansies
  • roses
  • violets

Whatever you pick, be ready to be surprised by the delicate flavors you create. As with gardening, the miracle is always in what blooms. Some inspiration to get started:

1. Sprinkle

Nasturtium blooms, borage, monarda and calendula add a vibrant pop to a salad.

2. Stuff

Fill squash blossoms with a soft herbed cheese. Brush with olive oil and bake until wilted and heated through.

3. Cook

Fennel flowers add a wonderful anise taste when roasted with fish or pork. Try a pinch of chopped lavender buds in mashed potatoes.

4. Sweeten

Roses, violets and pansies can be blended with equal parts sugar and water to make delightful syrups for sorbets or beverages.

July/August 2012