Soup and Salad with Strawberries and Edible Flowers
Story and photos By Marc Bouchard
Fiddlehead Contributing Writer
I’ve rarely met a New Hampshire native who didn’t smile at the thought of the first ripe native strawberries combined with fresh rhubarb.
After a long and cold winter, it’s the first tangible indication that there actually will be a summer in our future. And the perfect way to enjoy them is in a cool, refreshing soup.
Some recipes go out of their way to add more steps and ingredients than necessary. Strawberries and rhubarb are such an ideal combination that they really need little to bring them to perfection.
Just soften the rhubarb, add a judicious amount of natural sweetener, preferably locally made maple syrup or honey, some mint and yogurt, and perhaps a few drops of lemon juice. That’s it.
Excite Spring Salads
with Edible Flowers
Starting in early May, I’m probably eating a salad of some sort every day. It doesn’t take long before this routine becomes tiring.
Another Caesar? Balsamic dressing again? Greek salad? Just kill me now.
To shake up the routine, take a cue from your flower garden. Soon, you’ve got pansies and nasturtiums flowering on the borders, a pot of marigolds (calendula) on the deck, and every morning I’m greeted by the sight of more flowers on my rosa rugosa (wild rose) bushes.
Do you know what all these flowers have in common? They’re gorgeous, fragrant and absolutely delicious in a salad.
Be forewarned: Not every type of flower is edible. Consult your garden guide, the instructions on the seed packages and perhaps most importantly, your local garden center expert.
Don’t ignore some of the flowering heads in your vegetable garden. Zucchini blossoms, chive, pea and runner bean flowers, as well as herbaceous mint, thyme and basil buds — all of these add variety to a green salad.
If you’ve never planted flowers for use in the kitchen, and are excited to try, there’s one type that never fails: nasturtiums. Nasturtiums come in several styles and the smaller bush or dwarf varieties are easiest to care for and make a lovely edging to your vegetable gardens.
Their seeds can be planted early in the season and they don’t need special care or nutrition, in fact, they actually grow better in poor to average soil. And their flowers have a distinct peppery flavor, very similar to their relative, the watercress.
As a bonus, nasturtiums contain a number of nutrients, including vitamin C and the highest levels of lutein of any edible plant. Research indicates that lutein is beneficial for eye health and the prevention of cataracts.
The recipe above incorporates a poppy seed dressing that is light enough to accompany any fruit salad. Keep a batch in your refrigerator and use it as the summer progresses with a new crop raspberries, peaches, pears and apples.