Edible Flowering Beauties

Edible Flowering Beauties

I love gardening and using what I grow in the dishes I make. It’s so much fun! It’s even more exciting to learn that more or all parts of a flowers/plant are edible and can be incorporated into the dishes to add color and/or flavor.

I’ve compiled this non-comprehensive list by scouring my gardening books, magazines, and some websites. I may or may not be updating this list as I find more information. I will update the post and send out a new notification if a lot gets added.

Next time you are creating a culinary work of art, try to add another dimension to your dish! 🙂


DISCLAIMER:
These are guidelines acquired from many different reputable sources, but should NOT be considered professional advice. A good general rule of thumb, if you are NOT 100% certain about a flower, do NOT eat it. If you have hayfever or pollen allergies, do NOT eat flowers.


TIPS

  • Best Time to Harvest/Gather: early mornings
  • Most Common and Safest Edible Flowers: nasturtium, pansy, violet, Johnny-jump-up, calendula, chive, sage
  • Do NOT Eat Flowers if You Have Allergies: If you have asthma, hayfever, or other allergies, do NOT eat flowers.
  • When in Doubt, Do NOT Eat IT: A good rule of thumb to live by: if you cannot positively identify a flower as edible, do NOT eat it.
  • ALWAYS Avoid Nightshade Flowers: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers and asparagus.
  • Beware of Pesticides: Never eat flowers from the side of a road, a lawn, or field known to have been treated, a nursery, garden center, or florist (they may have chemical residues that concentrate in the flowers).
  • Flower Prepping Tips: Gently wash them gently in a large bowl of cold water and let them air dry on a towel.
  • Storage: Store them in the refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container lined with a damp paper towel.

NONCOMPREHENSITVE LIST OF EDIBLES

  1. Alliums – Known as the “flowering onions.” All members of this genus are edible. All parts of the plants are edible. There are approximately four hundred species that includes the familiar onion, garlic, chives, ramps, shallots and leeks. Their flavors range from mild onions and leeks right through to strong onion and garlic. The flowers tend to have a stronger flavor than the leaves and the young developing seed-heads are even stronger.  We eat the leaves and flowers mainly in salads. The leaves can also be cooked as a flavoring with other vegetables in soups, etc.
  2. Arugula (Eruca vesicaria) – Also called garden rocket, roquette, rocket-salad, Oruga, rocketsalad, rocket-gentle; raukenkohl (German); rouquelle (French); rucola (Italian). The flowers are small, white with dark centers, and can be used in the salad for a light piquant flavor. The flowers taste very similar to the leaves and range in color from white to yellowish with dark purple veins. Arugula resembles radish leaves in both appearance and taste. Leaves are compound and have a spicy, peppery flavor that starts mild in young leaves and intensifies as they mature.
  3. Banana Blossoms (Musa paradisiaca) – Also know as banana hearts. The flowers are a purple-maroon torpedo shaped. Banana blossoms are used in Southeast Asian cuisines. The blossoms can be cooked or eaten raw.  The tough covering is usually removed until you get to the almost white tender parts of the blossom.  It should be sliced and let it sit in water until most of the sap are gone.  If you eat it raw, make sure the blossom comes from a variety that isn’t bitter.  Most of the Southeast Asian varieties are not bitter.
  4. Basil (Ocimum basilicum) – Depending on the type, the flowers are either bright white, pale pink, or a delicate lavender. The flavor of the flower is milder, but similar to the leaves of the same plant. Basil also has different varieties that have different milder flavors like lemon and mint.
  5. Borage – Blue star-shaped blossoms practically fall off the plant when they are ready to eat. They have a mild cucumber flavor that is delicious in lemonade
  6. Broccoli Florets (Brassica oleracea) – The top portion of broccoli is actually a cluster of flower buds. As the flower buds mature, each will open into a bright yellow flower, which is why they are called florets. Small yellow flowers have a mild spiciness (mild broccoli flavor), and are delicious in salads or in a stir-fry or steamer.
  7. Calendula – Petals known as the “poor man’s saffron,” the sunset-hued marigold flower really does taste like saffron when it’s sautéedin olive oil to release its flavor.
  8. Caper Buds
  9. Chamomile
  10. Chive Blossoms (Allium schoenoprasum) – Delicate, oniony flavor. Use whole flowers or separate the individual petals. Use whenever a light onion flavor and aroma is desired.  Separate the florets and enjoy the mild, onion flavor in a variety of dishes. Also see #1.
  11. Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum coronarium) – Tangy, slightly bitter, ranging in colors from red, white, yellow and orange. They range in taste from faint peppery to mild cauliflower. They should be blanched first and then scatter the petals on a salad. The leaves can also be used to flavor vinegar.  Always remove the bitter flower base and use petals only. Young leaves and stems of the  crown daisy, also known as chop suey greens or shingiku in Japan, are widely used in oriental stir-fries and as salad seasoning.
  12. Cilantro/Coriander (Coriander sativum) – Like the leaves and seeds, the flowers have a strong herbal flavor. Use leaves and flowers raw as the flavor fades quickly when cooked.
  13. Dandelions (Taraxacum officinalis) – Member of the daisy family.  Flowers are sweetest, with a honey-like flavor, when picked young.  Mature flowers are bitter.  Dandelion buds are tastier than the flowers: best to pick these when they are very close to the ground, tightly bunched in the center, and about the size of a small gumball.
  14. Day Lilies (Hemerocallis species) – Slightly sweet with a mild vegetable flavor, like sweet lettuce or melon. Their flavor is a combination of asparagus and zucchini. Chewable consistency. Some people think that different colored blossoms have different flavors. To use the surprisingly sweet petals in desserts, cut them away from the bitter white base of the flower. Also great to stuff like squash blossoms. Flowers look beautiful on composed salad platters or crowning a frosted cake. Sprinkle the large petals in a spring salad.  In the spring, gather shoots two or three inches tall and use as a substitute for asparagus.
    NOTE: Many Lilies contain alkaloids and are NOT edible. Day lilies may act as a diuretic or laxative; eat in moderation.
  15. Dill
  16. Echinacea
  17. Florence Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) – It has a star-burst yellow flowers that have a mild anise flavor. Use with desserts or cold soups, or as a garnish with your entrees.
  18. Garlic Blossoms (Allium sativum) – The flowers can be white or pink, and the stems are flat instead of round. The flavor has a garlicky zing that brings out the flavor of your favorite food. Milder than the garlic bulb. Wonderful in salads. Also see #1.
  19. Henbit
  20. Hibiscus – Tart and sweet with a cranberry-like flavor. Often used in teas, cocktails, and salads.
  21. Hollyhock
  22. Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) – Sweet honey flavor. Only the flowers are edible.
    NOTE: Berries are highly poisonous – Do not eat them!
  23. Jasmine (NOT Jessamine) – Very sweet, floral fragrance and flavor. Use in teas or desserts.Jasmine (jasmine officinale) – The flowers are intensely fragrant and are traditionally used for scenting tea.  True Jasmine has oval, shiny leaves and tubular, waxy-white flowers.  NOTE: The false Jasmine is in a completely different genus, “Gelsemium”, and family, “Loganiaceae”, is considered too poisonous for human consumption. This flower has a number of common names including yellow jessamine or jasmine, Carolina jasmine or jessamine, evening trumpet flower, gelsemium, and woodbine.
  24. Johnny-Jump-Ups – Minty, almost bubblegum-y flavor. Serve on cakes or with soft mild cheese, like goat cheese.
  25. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) – Sweet, slightly perfume-tasting, with lemon and citrus notes. Lavender lends itself to savory dishes also, from hearty stews to wine-reduced sauces. Diminutive blooms add a mysterious scent to custards, flans or sorbets.
    NOTE: Do not consume lavender oil unless you absolutely know that it has not be sprayed and is culinary safe.
  26. Lemon Verbena – Light lemon flavor that’s well-suited for sweet or savory cooking.
  27. Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia) – The marigold can be used as a substitute for saffron. Also great in salads as they have a citrus flavor.
  28. Mallow
  29. Mint (Mentha spp) – The flavor of the flowers are minty, but with different overtones depending on the variety.  Mint flowers and leaves are great in Middle Eastern dishes.
  30. Nasturtiums – One of the most commonly eaten flowers. The flower may be vivid yellow, orange, or red as well as muted tones and bicolors. Both the leaves and the flowers have a peppery flavor, almost like watercress, and are best eaten uncooked. Toss petals into salads, top a sandwich, or make a spicy appetizer.
  31. Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) – Also known as ochro, okoro, quimgombo, quingumbo, ladies fingers and gumbo. It has hibiscus-like flowers and seed pods that, when picked tender, produce a delicious vegetable dish when stewed or fried. When cooked it resembles asparagus yet it may be left raw and served in a cold salad. The ripe seeds have been used as a substitute for coffee; the seed can be dried and powdered for storage and future use.
  32. Oregano (Origanum vulgare) – Milder version of plant’s leaf. Use as you would the herb.
  33. Pansy/Viola (Viola X wittrockiana) – Slightly sweet green and faint grassy flavor. If you eat only the petals, the flavor is extremely mild, but if you eat the whole flower, there is a winter, green overtone.  Use them as garnishes, in fruit salads, green salad, desserts or in soups.
  34. Radish (Raphanus sativus) – Depending on the variety, flowers may be pink, white or yellow, and will have a distinctive, spicy bite (has a radish flavor). Best used in salads. The Radish shoots with their bright red or white tender stalks are very tasty and are great sauteed or in salads. Piquant pods can be eaten raw or cooked.
  35. Red Clover (Trifolium species) – Sweet, anise-like, licorice.  White and red clover blossoms were used in folk medicine against gout, rheumatism, and leucorrhea.  It was also believed that the texture of fingernails and toenails would improve after drinking clover blossom tea.  Native Americans used whole clover plants in salads, and made a white clover leaf tea for coughs and colds.  Avoid bitter flowers that are turning brown, and choose those with the brightest color, which are tastiest.  Raw flower heads can be difficult to digest.
  36. Rose –  While roses have a strong floral scent, their flavor is quite subtle and fruity. Roses lend themselves well to everything from soups and salads to teas, jams and desserts like this delicious strawberry, pomegranate, and rose petal treat. Roses only look beautiful in a bouquet, but pair well in some delicious dishes. Roses may be tasteless, sweet, perfumed, or slightly spicy. Chop the petals and mix with sugar. Let them infuse for a week and use for baking and desserts.
  37. Rosemary – Milder version of leaf. Fresh or dried herb and blossoms enhance flavor of Mediterranean dishes.  Use with meats, seafoods, sorbets or dressings.  Lemon Rosemary Chicken
  38. Sage – With their soft, yet sweet-savory flavor and beautiful color, sage flowers add dimension to a variety of dishes.
  39. Scented Geraniums (Pelargonium species) – The flower flavor generally corresponds to the variety.  For example, a lemon-scented geranium would have lemon-scented flowers.  They come in fragrances from citrus and spice to fruits and flowers, and usually in colors of pinks and pastels.  Sprinkle them over desserts and in refreshing drinks or freeze in ice cubes.  NOTE: Citronelle variety may not be edible.
  40. Snap Dragon (Antirrhinum majus) – Delicate garden variety can be bland to bitter.  Flavors depend on type, color, and soil conditions.  Probably not the best flower to eat.
  41. Snow Pea Blossoms (Pisum species) – Edible garden peas bloom mostly in white, but may have other pale coloring. The blossoms are slightly sweet and crunchy and they taste like peas. The shoots and vine tendrils are edible, with a delicate, pea-like flavor. Here again, remember that harvesting blooms will diminish your pea harvest, so you may want to plant extra. NOTE: Flowering ornamental sweet peas are poisonous – do not eat.
  42. Squash Blossoms – Mild raw squash taste. Usually cooked before eaten. Lightly dust with cornstarch and deep fry.
  43. Sunflower (Helianthus annus) – The flower is best eaten in the bud stage when it tastes similar to artichokes.  Once the flower opens, the petals may be used like chrysanthemums, the flavor is distinctly bittersweet.  The unopened flower buds can also be steamed like artichokes.
  44. Thyme
  45. Violets – Sweet and floral. Use in dessert or freeze into ice cubes for decorative drinking. Violets, which come in a range of pastel and vibrant colors,have a sweet and floral taste, making them a perfect companion for everything from salads to iced drinks. They are particularly beautiful when crystallized and used to top frosted cakes and other desserts.
  46. Zucchini Flowers – The bright yellow flowers of the courgette or zucchini plant have a delicate and slightly sweet taste

Resources

 

 

Croatian Style Radishes

I was recently on an adventure in Croatia and visited a park that had been on my must-see list for about 20 years. Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world that i have ever seen! It is Croatia’s first and largest national park of the country’s seven parks. The park was instated into the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage List in 1979.

We booked AirBnB accommodations in a village about five minutes away and was famished by the time we had arrived after a day of sightseeing along the way. We asked around about dining options and the restaurant at Plitvice National Park was decidedly a fantastic choice! My dinner consisted of fine local Croatian offerings: white wine, grilled trout, salad topped with finely shaved pickled red cabbage, and stewed carrots and green beans, served with a basket of a dense but amazingly moist bread with sir (pronounced seer) cheese.  The stewed carrots were soft and buttery, seasoned to perfection. I have no earthly idea how the chef cooked that dish, but this is my take on it—with a Lulu twist of course! Enjoy! 🙂

On another note, like the unknown wine region of Switzerland (YES, there is one, and it’s gorgeous!), Croatia does not export their wines! You must enjoy their creations there and buy some to bring home.

Croatian Words

While you’re reading this post and possibly going to attempt this recipe, you should try to learn some basic Croatian food words. It’s one of the most difficult languages I’ve ever had to learn for my travels, but it’s quite challenging but fun! I learned that the language uses few  vowels in their words. Instead, the uses of accent marks over some letters create some of the sounds that would otherwise have been created with vowels. Quite minimalist! 🙂

  • molim = please/you’re welcome
  • Dubro Jutro = good morning!
  • hvala = thank you
  • kruh = bread
  • sir = cheese
  • butter = maslac
  • radish = rotkvica
  • mrvka = carrot
  • salata = salad
  • grilled fish = riba na zaru
  • trout = pastrva
  • wine = vino
  • coffee = kava; coffee with milk = kava s mlijekom
  • water = voda

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 bunches organic red radishes ~ ends and tops (leave 1/4 of the green stems) removed, radishes cut into halves or quarters
  • 1 cup organic baby carrots ~ cut into sections of two or three
  • 1 pint sunflower sprouts
  • Splash of white wine ~ I used chardonnay
  • Sea salt ~ to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper ~ to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a stainless steel pot, heat the butter on medium heat until melted. Add the carrots, sauté for a few minutes then allow to cook for about 3 minutes, covered.
  2. Turn up the heat slightly and add a splash of white wine. Immediately add radishes and cook for about 5 minutes, covered. Be sure to stir occasionally so that nothing burns. Add more butter and/or wine if needed. Your root veggies should be soft and tender.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve over a bed of sunflower sprouts. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper and a sprout.

Jicama Mango Salsa Fresca

Jicama Mango Salsa Fresca

My mama used to give me chilled slices of jicama when I was a kid. Back then, I used to pronounce it “jee-ka-muh”—only as an adult did I learn that I had been butchering this sweet juicy tuber’s name. I had no idea it was a latin name, thus should be pronounced “hick-uh-muh.”

If you follow my blog, then you may already know that I don’t like to drone on and on about my boring life. Instead, I like to share the interesting facts about ingredients for each recipe, be it nutritional value, how the produce got its name, etc. 

Jicama (Pachyrhizus Erosus), also called Mexican turnip, Chinese turnip, is a native Mexican vine that belongs to the legume family! Each vine can climb as high as 14-20 feet tall with gorgeous flowers of white or blue, and the edible tuberous tap roots are what we eat. However, everything else on the plant above ground is toxic, so take precaution if you decide to grow this in your garden. The leaves, stems, flowers, and seed pods all contain rotenone, a colorless, odorless broad spectrum insecticide/pesticide that naturally occurs in some plants, such as the jicama. It takes roughly 9 months from seed to harvest.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium jicama (about 1 pound) ~ diced
  • 2 small AtaĂşlfo mangos ~ diced
  • 1 medium shallot ~ finely diced
  • 1 jalapeño or serrano ~ finely diced
  • 1 cup organic cilantro leaves ~ chopped
  • juice of 3 medium limes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly ground sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Prepare all your ingredients. Combine all the ingredient in a large mixing bowl and gently mix with a spatula.
  2. Serve chilled with fish tacos, topped on salads, or with chips. Enjoy! 🙂

Companion Planting: Friend or Foe

As an organic home gardener, I am always researching and learning from  successes and failures. I make mental notes and log what I’ve learned from current and past trials and errors, in preparation for my next seasonal garden plot! That prompted me to create my own comprehensive (or as much as I can) companion planting visual guide!

Back in the spring of 2014—after extensive research— I made a basic “companion planting” text chart of the main veggies often grown by home gardeners, such as myself. I found so much of the information intriguing that I decided to add the interesting tidbits under their respective produce. Midway, I thought “Hey, this would be so convenient if I made myself a visual chart for my fridge!” And that I did. 🙂 It is now in its third edition with updated original illustrations, more companions planting tips, and even information on edible parts of everyday produce, that most people are not aware of!

Here are some of my other gardening discoveries and experiences:

  1. Marigolds: Sweet, sweet, beautiful marigolds. These gals play nicely with many veggies! It’s best to plant some among the other produce, in addition to planting a border of marigolds around your garden plot to act as a “shield” against pests. The lovely scent and bright, captivating colors will distract pests. Unfortunately slugs and snails do love marigolds, so keep all your eggshells; let them dry in the hot sun for a few days. Crunch up the shells and sprinkle them along the base of all your marigolds. You could also lightly sprinkle table salt along the base.
  2. Florence fennel: This bad boy wears way too much of that delicious cologne and is a bit of a bully to MANY veggies. Keep him contained in his own pot, away from the garden plot, as he’s more  of a loner!
  3. Tarragon: What a thoughtful uncle he is, looking after all your vegetables—especially eggplant. Plant tarragon throughout your garden.
  4. Mint: This hardy social butterfly likes to spread its roots wherever possible. Unless you want mint to take over, it’s best to keep it under control. I’ve planted mint inside a large, shallow terra cotta pot that I then put down into the garden plot. This creates a barrier around the rhizome root system. Sadly, mint attracts aphids once the weather gets consistently above the 70s. If the tips of your mint sprigs start to curl and deform, you have an aphid problem. Plant chives and cilantro near your mint patches to deter aphids.
  5. Cilantro: This resilient little gal is a fighter and can withstand the coldest, bleakest nights during winter! She’s most vivacious during cool/cold weather and isn’t so fond of the heat. She’ll start to bolt (grow tall and flower) the second the weather gets warm. The upside is you can keep the seeds (known as coriander) and dry them for your cooking spice collection. The roots can be washed and added to soup stock. Her flowers also attract a myriad of sweet ladybugs. What do ladybugs LOVE to dine on? Aphids! Grow cilantro near your mint patches.

PURCHASE ON ETSY

This full-color chart is available as a direct-download, high-resolution PNG file on my Etsy Shop (Luluesque). Print it at home or the office and post it on your refrigerator as I have. ENJOY and Happy Gardening! 🙂

Haricot Vert Tofu Crumble

Haricot Vert Tofu Crumble

If you are a huge green bean monster, you will fall in love with haricot vert and never look back. Haricot vert is French for “green bean” (Haricot=bean; vert=green) and the variety is slender and far more tender than the American variety you see in the grocery store. This recipe makes enough for two entrĂ©es or a splendid side dish for your next dinner party.

Allumette vs. Batonnet vs. Julienne vs. Matchstick

There is not a strong difference between these four techniques of cutting vegetables into thin even strips, but each technique varies in measurements. This helps the vegetables cook evenly and also delivers a nice presentation to the dish. (Measurements below are courtesy of The Spruce, one of my favorite websites.)

  • allumette measures 1/4 inch Ă— 1/4 inch Ă— 2 1/2 to 3 inches; sometimes referred to as the “matchstick cut”
  • batonnet measures 1/2 inch Ă— 1/2 inch Ă— 2 1/2 to 3 inches; “rectagular stick,” like a fat French fry
  • fine julienne measures 1/16 inch Ă— 1/16 inch Ă— 2 inches
  • julienne measures 1/8 inch Ă— 1/8 inch Ă— 2 1/2 inches; it is the allumette, cut once more, lengthwise

NOTES

Always try to use organic ingredients when possible. The grocery bill can add up quickly and not all produce are covered in harmful pesticides. As a general rule, I follow the Dirty Dozen, Clean 15 list.


INGREDIENTS

  • 1-pound package Haricot Vert
  • 1 medium carrot ~ julienned
  • 5 garlic cloves ~ thin slices
  • 1/2-1 block organic tofu, firm ~ all liquid pressed out, crumbled into desired size (see how-to notes in instructions)
  • white wine (I use chardonnay)
  • cooking oil
  • veggie seasoning ~ to taste
  • sea salt ~ to taste
  • black pepper ~ to taste
  • red pepper flakes ~ optional

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Remove all the liquid from the tofu block by hand-squeezing or weighing down the tofu with a heavy object on top. Sometimes I use a mortar (“bowl” part of the mortar-and-pestle combo). Crumble to desired size and set aside.
  2. In a large stainless steel pan, heat some oil on medium-high heat. Sauté the garlic slices until aromatic and golden-brown. Add the beans and carrots and cook the beans for about 5 minutes. Add more oil if needed.
  3. Splash a little wine into the pan and quickly cover with a lid. The wine creates steam, which helps cook the beans. Check the beans periodically. When the veggies are cooked to the desired texture, add sea salt, black pepper and other spices that you desire. Gently mix in the crumbled tofu with a spatula.
  4. Serve hot, garnish with red pepper flakes.

Edamame Super Greens SautĂ©

Edamame are young soy beans that have been harvested before they have ripened or hardened. You can purchase them shelled, still in the pod, fresh at the farmer’s market or frozen. I have never seen my local grocery stores carry them fresh. I like to keep a package or two in my freezer. They are great additions to chicken salad, quinoa, vegetarian chili, pasta dishes, veggie soups, or miso soup. Or if you are adventurous, you can make an edamame hummus dish, in lieu of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). Each cup of hulled edamame yields approximately 17 grams of protein!


NOTES

Always try to use organic ingredients when possible. The grocery bill can add up quickly and not all produce are covered in harmful pesticides. As a general rule, I follow the Dirty Dozen, Clean 15 list.

Super greens are leafy greens packed with vitamins, nutrients, and sometimes, iron.  Some of the popular ones are kale (curly or “dinosaur” aka lacinato), beet greens, Swiss chard, collard greens, spinach, turnip greens, radish greens, mustard greens, and watercress.


Ingredients

  • cooking oil
  • 1 large shallot ~ thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic ~ thinly sliced
  • 1 package frozen organic edamame ~ thawed and well drained
  • 2 bunchs of any organic “super greens” (see notes section above; I like to use lacinato and Swiss chard) ~ tough stems removed, chopped
  • 2-3 small organic carrots ~ skin left on, cut into 1/4 inch discs
  • sea salt ~ to taste
  • pinch sugar ~ to taste
  • fresh black pepper ~ to taste
  • cooked red or tri-colored organic quinoa (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large stainless steel pan, heat some oil on medium-high heat. Sauté the garlic and shallots until aromatic and golden-brown. Add carrots and cook until mostly tender (about 5 minutes). Add in edamae and cook for a few minutes to warm them. Add a litte water to the pan if the ingredients start to stick.
  2.  Add greens and quickly sauté until the greens are wilted, or tender if you prefer. Season to taste.
  3. Serve with red or tri-colored quinoa.

Blueberry Zucchini Bread

If you LOVE blueberries, blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, etc., then you’re in for a treat! This dense-but-moist bread is packed with mouthfuls of bursting blueberries! I tested out a few recipes and modified through trial and error, omitting, replacing, and adding as I went. This final recipe has the perfect balance of density, moisture, and sweetness. The grated zucchini provides moisture and you wouldn’t even know that someone had the nerve to sneak in…*gasp* zucchini!   🙂

So—why on earth would someone want to put zucchini in a sweet bread? It’s a vegetable. I’m not a food expert so I will share the information I learned from research. It’s because once upon a time successful farmers and home gardeners would have pounds upon pounds of zucchini and did not know what to do with them all…so they added them to baked goods. Zucchini is very prolific once it starts to thrive (assuming your zucchini crop was spared by the sesiid moths, Melittia Satyriniformis, that lay their eggs on the base of young zucchini plants, thus producing vine-boring larvae that destroy the entire plant, living and growing inside the tubular vines). Zucchini has a mild flavor and is high in water content, providing moisture to baked goods.  That’s the longer than necessary short answer. 🙂


NOTES

Always try to use organic ingredients when possible. The grocery bill can add up quickly and not all produce are covered in harmful pesticides. As a general rule, I follow the Dirty Dozen, Clean 15 list. I have been a loyal fan since 2004, when they first started. FYI, blueberries are listed as #15 and zucchini squash is #27. The lower the number, the higher the level of pesticides.


INGREDIENTS

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar ~ can substitute with granulated white sugar 
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups finely grated or shredded zucchini ~ about 3 medium zucchini; I like to use an old-fashioned mandolin
  • 2 pints fresh blueberries

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees. Lightly grease 2 large loaf pans.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together eggs, oil, yogurt, vanilla, and sugar. Whisk in flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Do not overmix the batter.
  3. Gently fold in zucchini and blueberries with a spatula. Pour into the prepared loaf pans.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool about 20 minutes on cooling racks. Serve warm with butter and a hot cup of tea. ENJOY! 🙂

Beets and Feta Salad

Anyone out there love beets as much as I do? During winter I was a fixated on these royal beauties. I made borscht twice and this salad twice. It may be a bit late in the year for those that garden like myself, but luckily there’s probably a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s near you! 🙂

INGREDIENTS

  • 4-5 medium beetroots ~ scrubbed clean
  • 2 garlic cloves ~ peeled and minced (optional)
  • 2 tbs organic parsley ~ leaves only, minced
  • 4 sprigs scallions ~ green only, chopped
  • 3 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 organic feta ~ cut into desired chunks (add more if you prefer)
  • sea salt ~ to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper ~ to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil ~ optional

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Boil the beets on medium-high heat for about 45 minutes. (The beets are cooked when a knife can be easily pierced through.) you can peel these, but I always leave the skins on. It’s good fiber and packed with nutrients! 🙂
  2. Strain the water. Allow beets to cool. Cut into chunks of desired size.
  3. In large mixing bowl, add lemon juice, garlic, parsley, scallions, and season to taste. Gently whisk. Add the chunks of beets and feta cheese. Gently fold with a spatula.
  4. Chill about 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley and scallions. ENJOY!

OTHER NEWS

If gardening is a hobby for you as it is for me, you are most likely a seed-saver. If not, it’s never to late to start! It’s a fun way to involve the kiddos, too! You can start by printing your own vintage-design seed packets, now available on my Easy shop. These are 100% original illustrations and designs made by yours truly. The back of each packet also includes a  companion planting list for that veggie/fruit,  along with a chef’s tip (when applicable) . Beetroot, eggplants, marigolds, radishes, and tomatoes are currently in the shop. I’m working on carrots, peas, cucumbers, basil, just to name a few.

Enjoy and Happy Gardening! 🙂

Leeks and Cremini Quiche

I cannot believe how easy it is to make quiche! 🙂 Quiche is one of my favorite dishes; I can have it for any meal or snack. Add a side salad or fresh fruit medley of nature’s seasonal goodies, and I am good to go!

Though this was an overall easy dish to make, I was still overwhelmed by all the recipes (apparently quiche is a popular dish!) and was a little nervous about my quiche coming out with a soggy bottom. Better Homes and Gardens has a pretty good page on how to prevent this from happening. My recipe is a combination of about five different recipes that inspired me. One of which looks amazing!

Serve your amazing quiche with a side salad, such as curly kale tossed with julienned carrots and paper-thin beet slices. Enjoy! 🙂

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 9-inch premade pie crust
  • organic butter
  • 2 large leeks ~ white and light green parts only, chopped
  • 6-8 cremini mushrooms ~ chopped
  • 1 cup organic half-and-half
  • 4 large organic eggs
  • 1 cup organic shredded cheese of choice
  • 1 tbs Mrs. Dash seasoning of choice
  • paprika~ to taste
  • sea salt ~ to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper ~ to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place premade pie crust in the oven, on the middle rack. Bake for 8-10 minutes. (The goal is to harden the shell, not bake it to a golden finish. This helps keep the bottom from becoming soggy once fillings are added.)
  3. While the crust is baking, sauté the leeks and cremini with butter, until the mixture is aromatic and cooked. Make sure any liquid has evaporated. Remove from stove.
  4. When the pie crust has lightly baked, remove from the oven and set aside.
  5. In a mixing bowl, lightly whisk the eggs, half and half, and seasonings of choice.
  6. Fill about 40% of the pie crust with the cooked veggies. Sprinkle on shredded cheese. Reserve some cheese for the top.
  7. Pour the custard filling all over the veggie and cheese. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 40-50 minutes. (The quiche is cooked through when an inserted fork comes out clean. You should also have a nice browning on the pie crust.)
  9. Remove quiche from oven and allow to cool for about 40 minutes before slicing.