Flowers are popping up all over the Hollywood farmers' market, and not just the kind you can display in a vase. This weekend, we spotted so many pretty bunches of edible blossoms, from Asian greens to arugula. With winter behind us, we're ready to add some spring color, and perhaps a peppery bite, to our cooking.
• 1 Arugula – We first discovered arugula blossoms last spring and have been anxiously awaiting their return. At the Hollywood Farmers' Market, they're available at Finley Farms. Use the peppery-sweet flowers in salads, sandwiches, soups, and eggs and check out the arugula blossoms spotlight for more ideas and recipes.
• 2 Rapini or broccoli rabe – When we saw this at McGrath Family Farms, we couldn't immediately identify it since we'd never seen rapini with quite so many flowers! Here's a great recipe for sautéed Sesame Broccoli Rabe, though if you have stalks like these that are practically all-flower, try using the blossoms in a salad. They add a delicately bitter, spicy bite.
• 3 Chamomile – Chamomile isn't just good for making tea. With their subtle apple flavor, the flowers can be used to decorate cupcakes, pretty up a fruit salad, or flavor ice cream. This New York Times recipe for Chamomile Ice Milk sounds heavenly.
• 4 Gai lan or Chinese broccoli – Different varieties of gai lan may have white or yellow flowers, but their bluish-green leaves help distinguish them from other, similar Asian greens. Gai lan is mildly bitter and good steamed, blanched, or stir-fried. We especially like this recipe for Chinese Broccoli with Five-Spice Sauce and roasted peanuts.
• 5 Choy sum or yu choy – Choy sum has white or green stalks and yellow flowers. When buying, look for tender leaves and stalks. This slightly bitter, fast-cooking vegetable may be steamed, blanched, stir fried, or added to soups. Here's a simple, fresh recipe from Steamy Kitchen for Garlic Yu Choy.
• For more information on the Hollywood farmers' market and other Los Angeles area markets, visit Farmernet.com
(Images: Emily Ho)