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Wildflower Recipes

Wildflowers are beautiful to look at, but did you know that they can also wake up your taste buds?  A number of these lovely buds and flowers are edible, and their colorful presence adds a touch of whimsy to any dish.  Try these recipes for a foray into flower eating, then branch out on your own.  Just remember - not every flower is edible, so stick to standards like nasturtiums, violets, and pansies.

You should never eat flowers or other plant parts unless you're 100% sure of their identification.  Also, in case you might be allergic to a particular flower, take care to never eat too much of the bloom at one time.  Organically grown flowers are always the best, so it's smartest to use flowers from your own yard or to buy edible flowers from the grocery store or farmer's market.

Nasturtium Salad
Colorful nasturtiums have a slightly peppery taste and make a great addition to fresh dishes like green salads.  Try this salad in the springtime when baby greens are in the market.

Serves: 4 - 6

Ingredients

6-8 cups mixed salad greens.  For more color, include a variety of dark and light greens and some red cabbage or raddichio leaves.
..5 cup fresh basil
2 t thyme with flowers
8 small nasturtium blossoms
..5 cup untoasted cashews
..25 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
..5 t mustard powder
1 t honey
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Wash the greens and spin them dry. Place greens in a large bowl and add basil, thyme, nasturtiums, and cashews. In a jar (with a lid), shake the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard powder, and honey until well mixed.  Dress the salad and season with salt and pepper. 


Violet Mango Salad
 
The pretty, purple members of the viola family (violets, violas, and pansies) are some of the most popular edible flowers.  These bright blooms are easy to grow and taste delicious.  They work well in salads and fresh dishes, and also make a nice addition to desserts like cakes and pies.  Sugared violets are particularly lovely on desserts.

Important note: African violets are not part of the viola family.  Do NOT eat them.  African violets are wholly different and can never be substituted for violets or pansies in recipes.
 
1/4 c violet leaves, washed and spun dry
1 t olive oil
1 t balsamic vinegar
1 ripe mango, peeled and cut into chunks
8 violets, stemmed, rinsed, and patted dry
salt and pepper to taste
1 t thyme
1 t honey

Directions:
In a jar, shake together the oil, vinegar, honey, thyme, and salt and pepper.  Toss the violet leaves with the dressing and arrange salad in bowls.  The violet petals are delicate, so it's best not to toss them with the dressing.  Instead, reserve a little to drizzle over the top when your salad is completely arranged.  
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