Monday, June 08, 2009

The Edible Blossoms

I'm growing summer squash.

Have you ever seen a squash blossom before? I got enchanted at the idea of them the first time I saw them stuffed with goat cheese and fried in a light batter in my Savoring Mexico cookbook released by Williams-Sonoma. That's a really good cookbook by the way. I keep trying to bring it to Sweden but the book weighs five pounds all by itself.

One of our squash blossoms has curled up on itself like a Chinese dumpling:

We couldn't be more tickled. Actually, squash blossoms are probably some of the most expensive vegetables around, and quite difficult to obtain. Although, you can eat some at various Italian bistros in New York, I've heard. Apparently, summer squash is one of the easiest vegetables to grow. I think they should make a list of the easiest to cultivate vegetables. I'm such a beginner, I need encouragement and some delicious vegetables to sustain me through the terrors of snail attacks on our tiny vegetable patch.

As long as we're talking about edible flowers, I'm planning on growing Nasturtium, which is from the watercress family and has a peppery flavor and great in salads, and also has a reputation for being a low maintenance plant:

And finally, a last touch to the amazing Italian fennel and celery salad we've been making ever since our last trip to Tuscany, wild violets:

Violet strewn Fennel and Celery Salad

Handful of violets, picked over and rinsed and patted dry
Wafer thin slices of fennel and celery (about 50/50 ratio)
Mustard dressing, recipe follows:

olive oil
Dijon mustard

Unfortunately, I mix the dressing by feel, but like all good food preparation, taste as you go. In a bowl mix 1/4 of a cup of olive oil with just a small amount of Dijon. The mustard isn't meant to overwhelm the other flavors, just complement. It's the same idea with the sugar, salt and pepper. Salt the dressing a little bit more so that when you toss the fennel and celery in the dressing, it will enhance the flavor of the freshly cut vegetables.

Strew with wild or cultivated violets.

This is one of our favorite summer salads. My friend taught me that the human palate can readily identify three flavors (what many Italian dishes hinge their success on) which would also explain why Japanese and French food can often transmit pure clean flavors. Adding any more tastes is another ball game.

One of the best things about this salad is that it's so easy to prepare. Hope you'll dare to try it. Fennel is one of those vegetables I had scarcely been even acquainted with.

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