And boy did it shower in Hawai`i. Not just in April but March, February and January! Therefore,
we should have a lot of flowers in May…and the flowers I’m thinking of are the edible type.
What?! You’ve never consumed a flower! Nay I say, you’re just not aware of flower consumption.
Whose had stirred fried broccoli or steamed cauliflower or capers in a lemon-butter sauce or
stuffed zucchini blossoms? If the answer is yes to any of the above, then you’ve consumed flowers.
The Bush family may hate broccoli but since they also seem to have misplaced national security
priorities, their nutritional priorities should also be regarded with the same reverence. The
Cruciferae family of vegetables are a nutrition laden powerhouse of a vegetable. Along with
healthy doses of beta-carotene, calcium, B vitamins and fiber, they also pack a wallop with
isothiocyanates –which have been shown in various studies to suppress tumor growth and regulate
normal cellular function.
Instead of simply steaming or stir-frying broccoli, how about adding it to eggs, potatoes, garlic
and onions for a simple frittata. Try marinating the peeled, sliced stalks in a simple miso, vinegar
and sugar marinade overnight for a new twist on tsukemono. Blanched chopped broccoli added to
crab or surimi, covered in a white sauce with cheese and baked makes a great side dish or main
Broccoli’s paler cousin cauliflower is just as versatile. Saute onions, garlic and cubed eggplant
along with curry powder and mustard seeds. Add vegetable stock or plain water along with a dash
of ketchup and tonkatsu sauce. When it starts to boil, add the diced cauliflower then reduce to a
simmer until cauliflower is tender.
Blanched cauliflower can also be substituted for potatoes in your favorite gratin or (if you must)
can also be deep fried ala French fries or onion rings.
These little salty gems shouldn’t simply be limited to a lemon butter sauce. They can be used as a
salt alternative for savory dishes or rinsed and drained purely for their unique flavor. Try adding
drained capers to a simple chicken stew that also includes nicoise olives, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic
and rosemary. Or mix rinsed and drained capers to chopped smoked salmon (cold or hot smoked),
minced olives, red onion and celery along with dill and light mayonnaise for a spread that can be
used in sandwiches or piped on crackers or vegetable crudités.
Nasturtiums are probably the one flower that you may have seen gracing a salad or main course.
Other than being visually appealing in their various shades of red, yellow and orange, they also add
a nice peppery bite to whatever dish they grace. The leaves are also edible but that’s another
column. Commercially available nasturtiums aren’t very cheap and they actually are very easy to
propagate – they actually grow best when ignored. Since their shelf life isn’t very long, growing
your own allows you to have a fresh supply whenever you need it.
Impatiens, like nasturtiums adds color to your plate though they don’t have much of a taste and
mainly function for visual appeal. Once again they are also very easy to grow for that constant
stock on hand.
Violets and lavender are commonly used in sweets for their perfumy quality. Violets are also
commonly candied by dipping in a sugar solution and dried then used as decorations in various
chocolates and sweets.
Take revenge on those pesky lawn aliens, dandelions. The petals can be used raw in salads (as well
as the leaves since they are a member of the lettuce family). When cooked, some say that it tastes
like sautéed mushrooms.
Finally, if you’ve had the misfortune of planting zucchini and are faced every year with bushels of
unwanted squash, stop the invasion this year by harvesting while still in the flower stage. The
blossoms can be stuffed with anything your imagination allows. Instead of filling with simple
stuffing mixtures for a side dish, mix various ground meats for a savory main course zucchini
Not Just For Bouquets and Bud Vases
I encourage you to try both the flowery type and the vegetable variety of flowers. Add color (and
taste) to your cuisine or revisit an old friend by preparing it in different ways. Casseroles, curries,
stews and gratins will make these flowers so much more appealing than just steamed or boiled.
Now I just wonder if the Mrs will be satisfied with a bunch of broccoli florets instead of roses on
April's Showers Brings May's Flowers