I recently did a cooking demonstration at the Mill City Farmer’s Market, showing the crowd how to cook stuffed squash blossoms. The number of people who told me that they had no idea that you could even eat squash blossoms convinced me that it’s time to talk about edible flowers. Edible flowers are the easiest way to elevate a dish from everyday to extra special.
A few days later, I went to a pizza party at one of my favorite places, Urban Roots, where talented Chef Jametta Raspberry was hosting a popup. The young people in the Urban Roots programs had harvested vegetables, made pizza dough, and were making a beautiful pizza with nasturtiums on top. I knew it was a sign. I had to make an edible flower topped pizza.
Edible Flowers Add Excitement
Edible flowers seem to mystify people. Maybe we didn’t grow up eating them, or just forget about them in between sightings. Flowers are fragile, so you don’t see them in restaurants that often. Perhaps an orchid in a Margarita, or a few rose petals on a dessert, but that’s it. The squash blossom is occasionally stuffed for a special of the day, if a chef has the flexibility to buy a basket of them and put it on the menu before they fade.
I grow nasturtiums in my window box every year, because I love the way they look, trailing over the edge of the box. Then I have a handy source of edible flowers and leaves, to pick and toss on salads, cupcakes, or this pizza.
I also grow Bachelors buttons and small Sunflowers, to use in summer meals. Chives and most edible herbs also have edible flowers. Pansies, Violets, Calendula and Marigolds, Impatiens, Gladiolus, Bee Balm, Roses, and some Orchids are spectacular in this recipe. I added squash blossoms, cut into strips. When using squash blossoms or other flowers with a big central calyx and stamens, use the petals only.
Look for edible flowers by the fresh herbs at your grocery store, at the Farmer’s Market, or grow them yourself. Only use organic, unsprayed ones, and make sure that they are edible. Don’t pick them on roadsides or in parks. If you have allergies to flowers, avoid eating them.
Pizza on the Grill with Edible Flowers
So, the only trick is to make a pizza with a schmear of fresh pesto and then top it later. Just make the crust, toss it on the grill, then as soon as it is firm enough to turn, flip it, spread with pesto and sprinkle with roasted tomatoes, and close the grill to finish the baking. Once it’s cooked through, top with edible flowers, and you have it.
It looks like the food of fairies, doesn’t it?
Pesto Pizza with Edible Flowers
- 1/2 cup roasted cherry tomatoes (see link)
- 1 1/2 cup warm water
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup bread flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
Pesto and Flowers
- 4 cups fresh basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 6 nasturtium flowers
- 2 squash blossoms
- 2 tablespoons broccoli raab flowers
- oil for the grill
- The day before, place the warm water, yeast and sugar in a
large storage tub and stir to mix. Let stand at room temperature until bubbly,
about 10 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flours and salt, and mix
just until combined. Use your hands to knead just enough to make it smooth,
adding a little flour if it is sticking to your hands. Let the dough stand at
room temperature for about an hour to double in size. Cover the tub and
- Two hours before dinner, take the dough out of the
refrigerator. Divide the dough into two pieces, shape each into an oval, place
on a floured counter and let it come to room temperature.
Making the pizzas
- Make the pesto: In a food processor, place the basil, garlic, pine nuts and salt. Process, scraping down as needed, until a smooth paste is formed. Drizzle in the olive oil and puree to make a smooth pesto. Transfer to a cup.
- Preheat the grill to high, and pour a little oil in a cup,
and crumple a paper towel to use to oil the grate. Get tongs and a large metal
spatula, and a large cutting board.
- Flatten and stretch each out to the width of your cutting board, making an oval about 12 x 7 inches. You can fit both on the board. Sprinkle the board with flour and place the shaped dough on it. Using the tongs to hold the paper towel, oil the
grill grate, and carefully place each portion of dough on the grill. Close the
grill and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for three minutes, then uncover and use tongs to peek under the crust, looking for grill marks. When it feels firm
around the edges and is marked, flip the dough. Quickly spread half of the pesto and sprinkle tomatoes on each crust, then cover the grill and let cook for three minutes.
- Arrange the flowers on the pizzas, cut, and serve.