Do you remember the commercial with naturalist  Euell Gibbons that began, “Ever eat a pine tree?  Some parts are edible.”?  I can’t  remember exactly what product the commercial was hawking, but I do know that’s how it began.   I could use a similar opening line for this post.  “Ever eat a violet?  “No,” you say?  Well, I’m here to tell you that you can and you can eat other edible flowers as well.

I have a special place in my garden  for violets because I love them so!  This area is not sprayed with anything toxic and it is not fertilized.  What grows in this  special spot is totally natural, so I feel very good about serving these little purple lovelies on my salads in the springtime to surprise my family and friends when they come for Sunday supper.

There are many flowers that are edible.  I bet that many of you have eaten squash blossoms, but did you know that you can snack on nasturtiums, pansies and roses? The first time I experienced flowers as an ingredient in a salad was when I lived in California.  It’s a beautiful addition that I have added to salads ever since.

I was reminded of this salad while strolling in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris and seeing violets peeking out from their long winter’s rest.  Violets are some of the first flowers to greet the spring with their tiny faces turning toward the sun.  Their sweet nectar is a  perfect addition to tender leaves of Bibb lettuce, bright orange slices and delicate herbs.

As much as I love extra virgin olive oil, I find that it is too heavy for this salad, so I use grape seed oil instead.  I also have lightened the flavor further by using champagne vinegar.  Please remember that I use wild violets that have not been sprayed with insecticide or fertilizer.

Make it special, make it Sunday!

Spring Salad with Bibb Lettuce, Oranges, Herbs and Violets

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

A simple, pretty salad perfect for spring!

Ingredients:

For Salad:

2 heads of Bibb lettuce, washed and dried
1 orange, peeled with a knife and sliced into clean segments
A few dozen violets or other edible flowers such as nasturtiums or pansies

For Vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh herbs such as tarragon, thyme or marjoram, snipped
1/2 cup of grape seed oil
Salt and white pepper to taste

Directions:

In a small bowl whisk vinegar,orange juice, salt, pepper and herbs together, slowly add the grape seed oil while you continue to whisk.

Compose lettuce and orange slices on plates. Drizzle with vinaigrette and garnish with violets.

Enjoy!