In this week's Junkyard Tales: All Together Now story, “A Taste of the Wild,” it's a beautiful summer day, and Spiro decides to try something he has always wanted to do: taste a June Bug grub. He knows that wild skunks who live in the forest and meadow eat grubs all the time, but he, himself, has never tried one. When he finally makes it to the meadow, digs one up and tastes his first grub, he sets himself up to learn a valuable lesson about what it is to be wild.
For this week's recipe, you'll need to go out into a meadow, collect five grubs, bring them home, and... just kidding!
This week's recipe is far more lovely and appealing than grub-y grubs, although it's just as wild. This week we're making a gorgeous summer salad with edible flowers.
While we typically think of flowers as decoration, many varieties are completely edible. From peppery nasturtium to cool-as-a-cucumber borage, flower petals can be both beautiful and tasty!
The salad below uses a mixture of borage, calendula, nigella, and nasturtium, but some other edible flowers you might find in your neck of the woods include:
Hibiscus Elder Flower (petals only) Calendula (petals only) Nigella Lilac Borage Nasturtium Dandelion Sunflower Lavender Saffron (Crocus) Roses Violets Marigold Thyme
The most important thing when foraging for edible flowers — other than checking a reputable source to make sure the flowers are, in fact, edible — is to make very sure that the flowers you're eating have not been sprayed with chemicals. Whether you're gathering your flowers in the wild or at a local farmers' market, be sure. (I speak from personal experience, here. I did not ask about some lavender at a farmers' market once, and spent one unforgettably horrible night on my bathroom floor feeling like the earth was spinning the wrong direction.)
Once you have ensured that your blossoms are not sprayed, however, feel free to experiment. The recipe below is for one of my favorite simple salads with a basic vinaigrette. I love the way the uncomplicated ingredients really let the flower petals shine, but feel free to swap in your own favorite veggies.
Flower-y Summer Salad
- For the salad
1 small head butter lettuce
1 bulb fennel
1 large handful cherry tomatoes
1 cup edible flower blooms
- For the dressing
1/3 cup olive oil 1 tablespoon honey 1 tablespoon vinegar 1 tablespoon lemon juice ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper
Wash all of the produce thoroughly. Cut the lettuce into 1 inch squares, and toss it into a large bowl. Chop the top few inches of the fennel fronds into the bowl as well.
If you have one, use a mandolin to carefully slice the fennel bulb, cucumber, and carrots. (If you don't have a mandolin, just use a sharp knife and get them as thin as you can.) Then, chop the cherry tomatoes in half. Add most of the fennel, cucumber, carrots, tomato, and flower blossoms to the lettuce, but reserve a little of each to garnish the top of the salad.
Next make the dressing. I find the easiest way to do this is by mixing it in a mason jar. There's no need to be precise about amounts, even--just eyeball it. Then, put a lid on the jar and shake well.
Toss the dressing with the lettuce mixture, then sprinkle the remaining veggies and flower petals on top to make your salad extra pretty. Serve immediately.
About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred year old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two pre-schoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion--showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun--in her weekly Sparkle Kitchen posts.
When Meryl isn't writing for Sparkle Kitchen, you can find her on her personal blog, My Bit of Earth, where she writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day.