Edible flowers are not just for fancy, Instagram foodies anymore. Now, you can have beautiful, delicious flowers in your own home!
Creating your own edible flower garden is easier than you think. Whether you have a green thumb or can barely keep your cactus alive, these tips from Chef Trevor Bethke of The Kirby House can help your summer recipes bloom with color and flavor.
What should I grow?
There are plenty of varieties of edible flowers. Here are a few of Chef Trevor’s favorite that you can grow in your own backyard or on your front porch.
Zucchini blossoms are among the most substantial of the edible flowers, so they are able to hold up when they are stuffed or fried. They are popular in Italian, Spanish, and Mexican cuisine.
Chef Trevor says: My favorite to prepare zucchini blossoms takes me back to Northern Italy on a visit during my college days. This is where I first saw them stuffed with roasted garlic, whipped ricotta cheese, and fresh herbs, then brushed with olive oil and roasted at high heat. Delicious.
Daylilies are not only beautiful but taste delicious too! They are slightly sweet, good when fried, and are phenomenal in many Asian cuisines. Try tossing them in salads or sauteing with fresh mushrooms.
Note to pet parents: Daylilies are toxic to cats when ingested. Be sure to check if the flowers in your edible flower garden are safe for pets.
This is one of the hottest trends in edible flowers at the moment. While you’ll often find it in lemonades, cocktails, or in various tea blends, it also tastes great in heartier meat dishes. It is the perfect match for game meats like pheasant, duck, and spring lamb, as well as chicken with thyme.
Chef Trevor says: Try adding lavender to your cornbread for an added floral note.
Nasturtiums are one of the easiest edible flowers you can grow. Compared to most edible flowers, they have a stronger, peppery flavor. They taste a bit like a cross between watercress and wintergreen or chocolate mint.
Chef Trevor says: This is my favorite edible flower! I like these fresh as a garnish to cleanse when finishing a plate, or tossed with fresh cucumber and strawberries to make a very interesting salad.
Pansies are brightly colored but mild in flavor, so they are commonly used as a beautiful garnish in dishes. You can also find pansies beautifying your favorite summer drinks such as iced tea, lemonade, cocktails, and hibiscus tea. However, pansies are also great when fried or in desserts like a strawberry shortcake.
Chef Trevor says: In many cases, you should only eat the petals of an edible flower. However, you can eat the whole pansy flower including the pistils and stamens (aka the center of the flower). Do your research before eating any flower that you haven’t tried before.
What tools do I need to get started?
Edible flower gardens are easy to start and maintain, so you don’t need much to get started. Most varieties can be grown in your backyard garden or in a pot in your home.
Many varieties of edible flowers are quite hardy, so you do not need to set aside much space for your garden. Raised beds are nice simply because they can help keep the weeds out and retain a little more moisture than traditional ground-level gardens.
Besides seeds and soil, you’ll want to grab a hand trowel for getting started and a spade to aerate the soil.
Pro tips from Chef Trevor
Turn your soil over a few time prior to planting.
Chef Trevor says: I go organic and use some local cow dung to richen up my soil.
Most of these flowers do well in full to partial sunlight. Zucchini tends to prefer a little shade as the leaves are broader. However, this variety isn’t best suited for indoors because they generally take up a good amount of space.
Adding mulch, such as straw or newspaper, can help retain moisture.
Watering in the evening is always best when outdoor gardening because it lets it the soak overnight. Never water your garden midday during the peak of summer. It can be tempting as they often look wilted a little during super hot days. This water will actually act as a magnifying glass in the mid-day sun and burn what you have worked so hard to make beautiful.
Recipe: Chef Trevor’s Roasted Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms
12 Zucchini blossoms, large
1 lb Ricotta cheese
½ cup Roasted garlic
2 Tbsp Romano cheese
1 Egg, whipped
1 Tbsp Basil, chopped
1 Tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp Black pepper, ground
3 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
- Gather and prep all of your ingredients.
- Preheat oven to 425° F
- Combine all ingredients except zucchini blossoms and olive oil in a small mixing bowl.
- Place ricotta mixture in a piping bag or sturdy zipper bag.
- Carefully remove any remaining stem from the zucchini blossom.
- Pipe cheese and herb mixture into zucchini blossoms.
- Place cheese-stuffed zucchini blossoms on oiled pizza pan or small baking sheet pan.
- Drizzle a little more olive oil over cheese-stuffed blossoms prior to roasting.
- Roast for 15 minutes
- Serve hot or chill for later use.
Serving suggestions: This dish is great served hot or cold, and drizzled with balsamic reduction or basil pesto. Garnish with grape tomato or chopped pine nuts.
For more fresh, spring dishes from Chef Trevor, visit The Kirby House today!