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Salad days: edible flowers 

That winter felt endless. Each time we got a warm-ish reprieve from the bitter winds and obscured skies, they came rolling back in with a vengeance. I'm knocking on all of the wood and crossing all of my digits while I write that this past weekend felt like the first genuine transition into the warmer months. You could feel it not just in the temps, but also in the levity in everyone's step on Saturday morning at the Rochester Public Market, where I was on the hunt for ingredients for a light, citrus-y spring salad.

Having been dreaming and scheming about my own edible garden at home, I was specifically looking out for fixings that were light versions of hearty food. Picturing a field greens mix as a base, I was looking for sugar snap peas, asparagus, radishes, and most of all, richly-hued edible flowers. And taking a cue from CITY's previous installments of "Market Made" and "Salad Days," I planned to stick to a budget of $20.

While I was able to find most of my ingredients, it was unfortunately still too early in the year for the market vendors to have the edible flowers -- although two or three of them promised they'd have nasturtium and pansies before long. So I ended up improvising and bought the other ingredients I wanted, but the violas in this story's images were procured from Wegmans later in the day. While violas are edible, these particular blossoms came from a potted hanging plant that I can't be sure was food-grade. So while we didn't eat these, they were used to give an example of how pretty a salad with edible flowers can be.

Wending my way through the packed crowds, I immediately found some asparagus ($3 for a bundle) and sugar snap peas ($2 for a small basket), and soon after spotted a vendor selling single lemons for 50 cents each. A small basket of radishes cost $1. I knew I had lightly salted sunflower seeds and a balsamic reduction at home, so I planned to use those to dress the salad, adding a spray of lemon to finish it.

I was well under budget, so I bought coffee for my friend and myself and we walked around the cheerful, sunny market with his young son, as they finished their own shopping. Distracted by the beautiful day, I forgot the greens, so we picked up a bag of tender spring field mix while on the hunt for edible flowers at Wegmans.

Market made

Green and gold edible flowers salad


- Greens (spring field mix)
- Edible flowers (I favor nasturtiums and pansies, but there are many edible varieties We used viola for this recipe, but make sure any flowers used are food-grade)
- Sugar snap peas (in the pod, the thinner and more tender the better)
- Asparagus
- Radishes
- Lemon
- Balsamic glaze
- Shelled sunflower seeds (we used salted)

Either blanch or sauté the asparagus and slice lengthwise to create narrower spears. Set aside and let cool. Put your greens in a salad bowl, add sliced radishes and sugar snap peas, toss. Separate into two bowls or plates, garnish with asparagus spears, and add the balsamic reduction to taste. Top with a sprinkling of sunflower seeds, and finish with a spritz of lemon.

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