In the spring we often complement our green salad with all kinds of edible wild flowers adding them to the basic mix; plus any fragrant sprigs and leaves we find in the garden.
The green salad I described is inspired from the traditional Lesbos winter salad as I adapted it from my book The Foods of the Greek Islands.
From the first October rains up until the end of April, the greengrocers of Mytilini, the capital of Lesbos, used to sell each head of romaine lettuce tied together with two or three sprigs of borage (often with its little blue flowers), two or three scallions, several sprigs of peppery arugula, four or five sprigs of dill or fennel fronds, a few sprigs of peppery wild cress and either fresh mint or a little wild celery. Once home, these essential ingredients for the local green winter salad are thinly sliced and tossed with a simple vinaigrette.
For the spring version we often create “a multisensory food experience,” as Mind Body Green proposes. “When flavor, texture, appearance, fragrance, and beauty come together on your plate—the result is sheer culinary delight.”
About the very common, slightly bitter dandelion blossoms —Taraxacum officinale — we read that “the golden blossoms are nutritious edible flowers beloved by herbalists, gourmets, and culinary devotees alike. Their bioactive chemical compounds have been touted for diuretic, liver-supporting, and anti-inflammatory benefits, among others. Some research has even found the dandelion plant may increase Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, two valuable types of probiotics associated with gut health, ” the article point out.
Ubiquitous all over Greece and on Kea, the pale yellow mustard greens’ blossoms, add a delicious kick to the salad, while the pink rose geranium, and the purple rosemary blossoms and sprigs add extra fragrance to the crunchy greens and herbs.
It’s important to cut the greens at the last moment and to slice them very thin. If they are coarsely cut, the salad will taste different.
WORD of CAUTION: Not all flowers are edible; unless you are sure what exactly you are foraging, be careful because many flowers may be toxic!
RECIPE: Green, Winter Salad, and the Flowery, Spring Version