It’s the time of year when we find ourselves hoping for sun to show up a bit sooner, and that we can put our jackets away for a few months. (It’s Seattle; it does happen.) So when Koppert Cress sent me a container filled with pansies on a rainy day, I was definitely amused and excited for some color.
The box had been bounced about a little in shipping, but the pansies were fully intact. Easily 30+ blooms, in white, purples, and reds, with white or yellow centers.
First off, they’re big – the pansies are up to 3” tall, with 0.5-1” petals. If I had had more patience, I would have tried pressing a few to see if they worked as tuiles.
Like most pansies, these were light on flavor-similar to a delicate lettuce. When I ate a few flowers, I noticed a bit of a mint, peppery aftertaste, but it’s more a delicate sensation of the velvety petal than a flavor. You’re getting these for the color impact, and they won’t detract from your dish.
When I think of flowers with meals, I jump to TV shows with pansies on french toast for Mother’s Day. That sounded boring. So, to showcase them, I tried two formats where the petals were used as toppings.
First I used them to top slices of Mt. Townsend Creamery’s Cirrus cheese, a Camembert-style cheese with a delicate rind. With the crisp crackers and delicate cheese, the pansies added a much-needed hit of color and texture.
Next, I added flowers and petals to parfaits made of creme fraiche ice cream from Snoqualmie Gourmet, rhubarb compote sauce, and home made granola. It was simple, quick, and a great mix of flavors, from the crunchy granola to the smooth ice cream, with the pansies providing a showy, edible finish.
Add 1-2 stalks of finely cut rhubarb with 2-3 tablespoons of sugar, and stir constantly until the rhubarb is cooked through.
I sweetened them to taste, using vanilla sugar I made at home. Vanilla tends to add it’s own hint of sweetness, so if you skip the vanilla, add a bit more sugar. I’d also try it with lemon zest the next time I make this recipe.
We were most impressed by how long-lasting these edible flowers were. The pansies survived two weeks of being manhandled by me and shoved in our fridge. I live with programmers; delicate things need to usually be under lock and key. But these pansies kept on looking great. Score one for Koppert Cress.
Next time, I would move towards sugaring the pansies with a flavored sugar, such as vanilla sugar or a minted sugar, and adding them to mocktails. Or testing out the pansy tuile idea.
Flowers as an addition to a dish are not only visually pleasing, but can add flavor. Chefs find edible flowers to have culinary usefulness, and make the most basic of meals or dishes come alive. Flowers can add sophistication and contrast, enhancing even the simplest of dining experiences.
Koppert Cress microgreens and other specialty products can add flavor and ‘pop’ to food presentation. Their products can be found at gourmet and specialty food shops, and are available for hospitality industry purchasing at usa.koppertcress.com.