We’re Eating Flowers: Our 3 Favorite Recipes, by Virginia Suardi (8 years old)

Last night, my family and I devoured a dinner of pumpkin flower risotto and salad with kale and nasturtium flowers.  We have never tasted something so good, and we all agree: this is the best thing we have eaten from our garden.

Here is how we planted our edible flowers.  We cleared out some space in our front yard — you could use your side or back yard too.  Then we used natural potting soil and spread it over our planting area. [Note from Mom:  Sprinkling a layer of potting soil worked for our Morning Glories, but when planting food, I suggest replacing at least six inches of of earth with high-quality planting mix.]

Pumpkin Flowers

My mom picked Howden pumpkin seeds because the package said that they are round, orange, and “just the perfect size for spectacular jack o’lanterns.” You can’t eat all the flowers, because some turn into pumpkins. We used three to four seeds per hole.  Make sure the seeds are spread out in order to grow.

Nasturtium Flowers

Nasturtiums are good to eat, but they also shoo rabbits and attract hummingbirds.  Put only one seed in each hole.

Daylilies

We didn’t have to plant the daylilies.  They were already there when we moved in.  See if you have any edible flowers in your yard.  My mom says you might want to read this article:  How to Forage for Wild Edibles with Kids.

Borage

This is what the borage seed packet says: “Clusters of sparkling blue flowers look like stars falling from the sky.  Edible flowers are beautiful on salads, or candied atop cakes and pastries.”  Use three to four seeds in each hole.

Just a reminder:  remember to water all of your edible flower seeds every morning or afternoon.

What These Flowers Taste Like

The pumpkin flowers are pillowy and buttery.  The nasturtiums have a good amount of sourness, and when they are fried, they are very crunchy.  The lilies taste like the pumpkin flowers, except they are more crunchy.

We haven’t tried the borage flowers yet, because we planted them very recently, but the seeds are sprouting. The seed packet says that you can also candy these flowers and top them on pastries and cakes. I wonder what that would taste like.

Here are our favorite recipes for eating flowers:

Kale Salad with Nasturtium Flowers

Kale chips are a treat for winter, but we decided they’re too hot for summer, so we tried this recipe.  My sister, Sofia, likes this kale salad better than ice cream.

  • Tuscan kale leaves
  • Nasturtium flowers
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  1. Wash and cut up the kale leaves. The stems are hard to chew, so cut them off.
  2. Wash the nasturtium flowers.
  3. Put kale and flowers in a salad bowl, and mix with the juice of about half a lemon.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and mix well.
  5. Let the salad sit in the bowl for about 5 to 10 minutes so that the kale will get softer and it will be easier to chew.
  6. Toss the salad again right before serving it.

Pumpkin Flower Risotto

My mom wrote this recipe down because I’ve never made this risotto by myself.

  • 5 to 10 pumpkin flowers or squash blossoms, chopped roughly
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of chicken broth, diluted with 4 cups of water
  • 2 cups of Arborio or other Italian risotto rice
  • 1/4 cup freshly-grated parmesan cheese
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the broth and water mixture over low heat.
  2. Put the oil, onions, and one tablespoon of butter in a wide sturdy pot and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the rice and toss until coated.
  3. Then with a soup ladle, begin to add the warm broth to the rice, 1/2 cup at a time. Continually stir the rice with a wooden spoon, scraping the sides and bottom of the pot so the rice doesn’t stick.  Once the rice has absorbed the broth, add another 1/2 cup.  Keep adding broth this way for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the chopped pumpkin flowers, stir well, and cook for another 5 minutes, adding broth as needed.
  5. Begin to taste the rice. When the rice is ‘al dente’ like pasta — tender but firm to the bite — it is done.  The consistency of the risotto should be slightly moist but neither runny nor chunky.
  6. When the rice is about 1 to 2 minutes away from being done, add the parmesan cheese and the last tablespoon of butter. Stir to melt, then turn off the heat.  Taste a cooled spoonful and add salt if necessary, stirring again.
  7. Serve right away.

Batter-Dipped and Fried Flowers

Here is the recipe for frying flowers in beer batter.  If you are afraid that drinking beer will not be good for you, don’t worry because the beer cooks off when you fry it.  My family and I have tried pumpkin flowers, nasturtiums and daylilies fried and we all love them.

  • 1 1/2 cups beer (one bottle)
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • about 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • edible flowers, about 10 to 15
  1. First put the dry ingredients into a bowl.  Then pour in the beer, and stir well until all of the lumps are gone.
  2. Pour about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil into a tall-sided skillet.  My mom says turn the heat to medium.
  3. Dip the flowers in the batter, and make sure all of the sides are covered.
  4. When the oil is shimmery but not smoking, carefully lay each flower into the oil, but don’t drop them in because the hot oil will splatter.  So that you can have space to fry other flowers, put each one close to each other, but not touching.
  5. Lift each flower with tongs and see if they are browning.  If they are, flip them over to the back side and cook until both sides are golden brown.
  6. Take the flowers out with tongs and let them drip oil back into the pan. If you touch the flower right away, it could burn your finger.  Put it on a plate lined with paper towels, and do it with all the other flowers until you’re finished.

Here is a picture of me. I love seeing when the flowers are ready and flipping them over.


Do you have any edible flowers growing in your yard?  Let me know in the comments!

VirginiaSignatureCorrected

Photos taken by Sofia Suardi (10 years)

 

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28 comments

  • Sharon September 12, 2014, 8:48 pm

    We also eat chive blossoms raw in salads. They taste like chives, sort of like mild green onions. The red bean flowers on my scarlet runner beans are also delicious. They taste like beans with honey! No wonder the birds keep eating them as well. Your recipes look delicious. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Amy September 20, 2014, 7:05 am

      Hey Sharon,

      Great to know about the bean flowers and the chives. I have both of those growing but have never eaten that part of their plant. Thanks for writing,
      Amy

      Reply
  • nipa May 24, 2014, 7:56 pm

    i’m growing Nasturtiums in my gardens i didn’t know you can eat them
    thanks you for the tip how to eat the flowers

    Reply
    • Amy May 24, 2014, 9:38 pm

      Totally, Nipa! I hope you have fun with them too,
      Amy

      Reply
  • Deanne May 30, 2013, 12:02 am

    Thank you so much for this blog post! I have recently moved into a new place, and even though I cleared the entire front yard for my edible English cottage style plans, it has refilled itself with nasturtiums as if to say “hey, didn’t you know nasturtiums are edible too!!!” so I have been on the hunt for good nasturtium recipes. Lucky I like kale so I can try your salad idea. I also have pumpkin and zucchini coming up in the backyard so I am looking forward to trying the beer batter flowers! Keep up the gardening and thanks for sharing your recipes!

    Reply
    • Amy May 30, 2013, 8:21 am

      Hi Deanne,

      So cute how your nasturtiums were asserting themselves. Your edible English garden sounds absolutely delightful. I love the natural abundance of English gardens. You are going to love the fried pumpkin flowers!

      Happy planting and eating,
      Amy

      Reply
  • Kerry @ Made For Real July 14, 2012, 9:04 pm

    Yum, it all looks so good! Have seen flower recipes before but never tried.
    And by the way – we love kale chips too!
    Kerry @ Made For Real´s last post ..Friday Favorites

    Reply
    • Amy July 16, 2012, 7:26 am

      Another kale-chip lover! Thanks for writing in, Kerry. I hope you try a flower recipe!

      Take care,
      Amy

      Reply
  • Beth July 12, 2012, 9:32 pm

    Great post Virginia! My grandmother told me about using marigolds for coloring food. Have you tried eating marigolds?

    Reply
    • Amy July 13, 2012, 1:33 pm

      Hi Beth!
      No, we haven’t tried Marigolds yet – but we have some growing so, thank you
      for suggesting!

      -Virginia

      Reply
    • Amy July 16, 2012, 7:28 am

      Hi Beth,

      Thanks for the idea on using marigolds as a natural food color. I never would have thought of that. So many things that our grandmothers did are becoming cool again, aren’t they?

      Thanks for writing in,
      Amy

      Reply
  • Amy July 12, 2012, 4:07 pm

    Our friend Shirley just told us about this article in the New York Times Dining Section (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/11/dining/enjoying-zucchini-blossoms-without-cooking-a-good-appetite.html?_r=1&ref=dining) which explains how to enjoy squash blossoms raw.

    Writer Melissa Clark says the flowers retain more of their bright flavor, and she stuffs them uncooked with creamy burrata cheese and olive tapenade, and then drizzles them with oil and sprinkles with sea salt.

    She says to serve them with napkins, because they’re a little bit messy, but in the very best way.

    Reply
  • Elia July 12, 2012, 3:02 pm

    Thank you for the good information you sent.
    I am reading you from a little University town in Argentina.
    I will share with my English speaking friends your Frugal Mama.

    Congratulations! Continue the good work.
    Sincerely,
    Elia

    Reply
    • Amy July 12, 2012, 4:19 pm

      I am glad you liked my post. Oh, by the way my aunt lives in Argentina.
      -Virginia

      Reply
  • Elizabeth July 12, 2012, 2:54 pm

    To Virginia:

    Dinner at your house sounds so interesting. Maybe you can open a restaurant or a cooking school. I have made risotto and it looks very much like the picture of the risotto you have at your home.

    I enjoyed this article and maybe one day will try eating a flower. Many years ago I read somewhere that the buds (before they open up and flower) of the day lilly taste something like green beans. What do you think about this??Thank you for sharing the link about foraging for edible plants.

    May the rest of your summer be fun filled. Keep the articles coming.

    Sincerely,

    Ms. Liz Carmody
    (one of your mom’s faithful readers. Tell her I liked reading the Washington Post article!)

    Reply
    • Amy July 12, 2012, 4:16 pm

      Thank you for commenting Ms. Carmody!
      I will think about opening a cooking school someday.
      -Virginia

      Reply
  • Eva July 12, 2012, 10:50 am

    I love pumpkin flowers! When I studied abroad in Mexico I couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a delicious dish containing “flor de calabaza”. My favorite was adding it to tacos:)

    Reply
    • Amy July 12, 2012, 2:25 pm

      Thanks for commenting, Eva!!
      I am glad at least somebody else loves pumpkin flowers!!!
      Mmmm putting pumpkin flowers in tacos sounds yummy!
      We should try that too!!

      -Virginia

      Reply
    • Amy July 12, 2012, 2:37 pm

      Wow, adding pumpkin flowers to tacos — now that is something I would not have thought of! Thank you so much for writing in, Eva!

      Amy

      Reply
  • Lili July 11, 2012, 10:24 pm

    Virginia, what a nice post you wrote. You did a great job telling how to plant and then cook the flowers. And I like the way you described the way they taste, too.

    Keep up the good work!

    Lili

    Reply
    • Amy July 12, 2012, 2:20 pm

      Hi Lili!
      Thanks for commenting!!!
      Thank you also for the compliments!
      Mama helped me with the recipes.

      -Virginia

      Reply
  • Paola G July 11, 2012, 10:00 pm

    Great post Virginia! Love the pictures, Sofia. I am a bit jealous though… This year, for the first time in years, our zucchini flowers (and we grow zucchini just for the flowers…) get eaten before we can even see them bloom!!! I am afraid that the rabbits that populate our garden might have found out how delicious they are!!! I just hope they don’t fry them under the shed where they have nested :))))

    Reply
    • Amy July 12, 2012, 2:16 pm

      Thanks for the comment Paola!!! Sorry your zucchini flowers didn’t work. This year the down side was
      our fruit trees. The squirrels ate the peaches and the apple trees got a disease. Well, we’re hoping it will work next year!

      -Virginia

      Reply
    • Amy July 12, 2012, 4:23 pm

      Also Paola,
      Think about planting Nasturtiums – it’s not to late and they shoo rabbits!

      -Virginia

      Reply

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