FOOD & FLOWERS
A MONTHLY FEATURE SHOWCASING SEASONAL FLOWERS AND PRODUCE AS WE FIND THEM (TOTALLY IMPROMPTU) GROWING AT HOPE FLOWER FARM AND AT FARMERS MARKETS IN VIRGINIA. FOOD IN FLOWERS AND EDIBLE FLOWERS IN FOOD WITH FORAL DESIGNER HOLLY CHAPPLE AND... US!
June in Virginia is magical. We start to get days of typical Southern humidity and a few 'hot ones' with cooler evenings, topped off with afternoon thunder showers. And that means the plants are happy. The farmers market and roadside produce stands are starting to overflow and really, this becomes the part of the year where I am content to make meals off of that alone. In fact, in a (seriously professionally produced in a TV studio that was weirdly next door to the Wendy Williams Show) Facebook Live event I talked about why being excited and inspired about your project (in this case healthy eating) is important. I specifically said the words "Yeah! I'm jazzed about summer tomatoes." So. There you have it. If you're a food person you totally understand. No one in their right mind should eat out of season tomatoes that taste like garbage cardboard.
To make a garden salad into a meal you can do two things in my opinion. You can either add a protein (eggs, nuts, cheese, meat, tofu etc) AND/OR you can add a grain. I'm personally not satisfied with salad as a meal unless it has one of those things going on. So before we ran out the door to Hope Flower Farm to play for this shoot, Chris mentioned we should probably cook some kind of grain from the pantry to go with whatever we could find at the market. In this case I had a few wheatberries leftover from a recipe, so that's what we worked with. This salad also has hard boiled quail eggs from a farm stand on the way as well as some feta. Let's just check all the boxes.
When it comes to edible flowers in this salad, we used two. Borage, the light blue flowers, are known for bringing pollinators to the garden. The flowers themselves taste peppery (perfect for this salad) but the leaves have a cucumber-like taste (we didn't use any here but they'd probably work well in a cocktail). While we were harvesting in the garden, Holly showed be how the borage flowers will slip off the stems if they're fully ready.
The second edible flower we used was nasturtium. These are much more common, though incredibly rare to find in a grocery, or at this point for me in Virginia, in a farmers market. Like borage, they have a peppery taste, but definitely more intense than borage. You can eat both the leaves and the flowers.
And actually as I'm looking at pictures of the salad, technically I also threw in some of the flowering tops of dill here too. So, three flowers.
Most of Holly's food in flowers came from the area of the garden: herbs, edible flowers and even a few faux edibles. In this case, those sweet peas you see at the bottom of the piece below. They have the same curly, dainty tendrils of edible peas, but these are not edible.
Virginia Summer Garden Salad
Summer Virginia produce tossed in a peach dijon dressing with nasturtiums and quail eggs
Serves 4 (easily scales up)
/// Ingredients ///
- 2 large tomatoes
- 1 ear of sweet corn
- 1/4 young zucchini
- 1/4 small red onion, sliced
- 1 cup cooked wheat berries
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 5 quail eggs
- fresh basil
- fresh dill
- borage flowers
- nasturtium flowers
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons peach jelly
- 1 Tablespoon whole grain dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
/// Directions /// Slice off 'rugs' of fresh, raw corn. Slice tomatoes into wedges or quartered round slices. Quarter and slice zucchini. To make hardboiled quail eggs, bring water to a boil and add eggs. Turn off heat and leave quail eggs in water for 3 minutes. Remove from water and place in ice bath. Peel and cut in half. Add to salad. Chiffonade basil and dill. To compile salad add grain base and layer additional ingredients. Top with pepper and save borage and nasturtium for the very top.
To make dressing, whisk jelly, dijon and olive oil together. Drizzle over top of salad. Toss before serving, or set dressing on the side for self service.
Note: If you open a tomato and it is just plain mediocre, salt and pepper the slices ahead of time. Another note: YES you totally can eat raw sweet corn! We do this all the time when we add it to salads.
Dietitian Nutritionist and cookbook author sharing flavor-forward recipes and simplified science-driven wellness.