Happy Food: Edible Flowers

Happy Food: Edible Flowers ~ Using dandelions & lilacs

Summer is fast approaching, but I’ve been trying to take note of our spring garden treats. Spring in Calgary can go by so quickly! One of our shortest seasons. Blossoms today, gone tomorrow. Our simple backyard garden in the city offers some lovely nibbles though & that’s what I want to share with you today.

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Happy Food: Edible Flowers ~ Using dandelions & lilacs

 

Most of our focus on growing food revolves around the farm nowadays, so our backyard garden is lacking all the bounty it used to provide. That said, even without any help from us, it provides some special treats. Our first harvest of the season from the backyard yielded dandelion greens & blossoms, lilac blossoms, rhubarb, sorrel & chives.

And yes, I listed dandelions & lilacs as part of the harvest. Two often overlooked plants that are commonly found in yards throughout the city. *(see note below)* Our backyard has been left to it’s own devices since we moved in 9 years ago, except for the raised beds where we planted veggies. So the “lawn” is mostly dandies now. The whole plant is edible, from root to flower, although I haven’t tried doing anything with the roots yet.

Dandelion leaves are packed full of vitamins A, C and K. They’re also good sources of calcium, potassium, iron & manganese.

If you want to use the dandelion greens for salad {in place of lettuce greens or alongside them}, it’s generally recommended that your harvest them before the plant blooms. Once they start blooming, the greens get more bitter. Still completely edible, but maybe less appealing in flavour. We have always just started using the greens for salad once they show up in the spring. Use them in similar ways as you do any salad greens. They work with either oil & vinegar dressings or creamy dressings {fatty sour cream works great}.

 

Happy Food: Edible Flowers ~ Using dandelions & lilacs

 

When it comes to dandelion blossoms, it’s best to harvest before they go to seed, obviously. Once you harvest the blossoms, you can either leave the blossom intact or pull out the petals. Just depends on what you are doing with them. In the salad above, I did both. Here’s the recipe:

Zucchini Dandelion Salad

  • 2 Zucchinis
  • Handful of fresh dandelion blossoms
  • Sprinkle of lilac blossoms

I used a simple hand spiralizer to make zucchini noodles for the salad. I like to cut the long lengths of zucchini into smaller strips. Then added the dandelion blossoms. Tip: if you need a quick way to prep dandelions so you are mostly using the petals, just snip the across the bottom of the blossom with scissors to remove “most” of the green leaves at the base.

Dressing

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Dash of salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 2 drops Lemon essential oil

I place all the ingredients into a small mason jar. Put the lid on tightly and do a little dance party to shake it up. Pour over salad. {Honestly, I just eyeball the ingredients. Not a science, just a salad}.

 

Happy Food: Edible Flowers ~ Using dandelions & lilacs

 

You can also do lots of lovely baking with dandelions and other edible flowers. I have a whole post coming shortly about lilac blossoms. I’ve made dandelion cookies in the past. This year I wanted to try something new, so I revised my mom’s strawberry rhubarb pie recipe to come up with our own concoction: Strawberry Rhubarb Apple Dandelion Pie. A little bit of everything we had in the kitchen that day, plus some freshly picked dandelion blossoms. Wanna try them out in your own baking? I suggest just adding the petals into some of your favourite recipes. You can slip them into cookies, loaves, muffins, pies, & scones without too much trouble.

 

Happy Harvesting!

 

Happy Food: Edible Flowers ~ Using dandelions & lilacs

 

*A caveat on dandelions, I don’t recommend using them if you’ve been spraying your yard with weed killer or fertilizer, or if you have a dog that you share the yard with. And it’s probably not very safe to harvest along city roadways. Gotta say it. Done.
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