Bako Sweet - Make it Sweet With Our Organic & Conventional Seedless Watermelons - June/July 2020Flavor Worth a Thousand Words

Herbs and Edible Flowers SnackChat

T

he spice of life is different for each of us, and many of those in our industry find it in food. From arugula to radish blossoms, the possibilities of herbs and edible flowers can bring anything from nuance and subtlety to a dynamic rush of flavor. So, what inspires the palates of our industry’s taste seekers? You are in store for a treat—of the plant-based kind.

 


 Neil Doherty 

Senior Director, Culinary Development, Sysco


“Utilizing herb flowers always brings a smile and a nod back to my kitchen days in the eighties, when we used nasturtiums and edible pansies in Nouvelle Cuisine. Today, I still use nasturtiums in salads for the peppery taste, rosemary flowers for garnish, and lavender for its unique fragrance and visual appeal. And, of course, basil blossoms with heirloom tomatoes. I like to think it’s total usage of the herb from stem to flowering petals—herb flowers bring an element of whimsical elegance to a dish.”

 


 Scotty “Shooty” Schuette

Vice President of Produce, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market

 

“My favorite herb of all time happens to be the very versatile and popular, fresh basil. We have a local Illinois organic herb grower, Meyer Farms, that produces our private label organic herb line of products for Fresh Thyme. Founded and managed by a professional chef, Meyer Farms has been passionately growing high-quality fresh organic herbs and edible flowers since 1986. As devoted farmers and stewards of the earth, the company grows herbs on 50 acres using only natural, earth-friendly, and organic methods. The company is headquartered in Wauconda, Illinois, and has a farms in Wauconda and Woodstock, IL.


My favorite dishes that include the use of fresh basil in the recipe happen to be some of the easiest ones to prepare. Fresh bruschetta and Caprese salad both allow the taste of fresh-cut basil to be enjoyed by all who try it. The bruschetta is a blend of the sweetest tomatoes available, garlic, onions, olive oil, and, of course, fresh-cut basil. (I have been using sweet grape tomatoes for this recipe. They are a little more time consuming to dice up but have the best flavor profile this time of year). As for the Caprese Salad, it is not only a tasty way to eat a salad, but also guaranteed to dazzle guests with a beautiful presentation. Starting with a layer of crisp romaine leaf, the simple salad is topped with a thick sliced vine-ripened tomato and an equally thick slice of fresh mozzarella cheese. Thinly sliced strips of fresh basil are then sprinkled over the top, creating a beautiful contrast of green, red, and white color combinations. Once assembled, the finished salad is not ready to be served until a drizzle of olive oil, a drizzle of balsamic glaze, and a dash of coarse ground pepper are added on top.”



 Jeffrey S. Merry

Corporate Executive Chef, Reinhart Foodservice, LLC -

Boston Division 


“Because of their pungent, peppery flavor, I love using arugula and radishes in some of my presentations. However, that strong peppery taste can sometimes overpower the dish. Edible radish flowers are light, delicate blossoms with a similar shape and texture to arugula blossoms and they have a faint radish flavor. Each flower has four long petals that are a mix of white and purple, with four yellow stamens in the center. Arugula blossoms are peppery but a bit more mellow than the green leaves. You can differentiate the domestic and wild varieties by the color of their blossoms. The white and purple four-petal blossom is from the domestic arugula and the yellow petal is in the wild. Incorporating either of these blossoms in your savory or salad recipes adds not only color but a subtle peppery finish as well.”


 


 William Henpenn

Director of Farming, Crenn Group

 
“We are seeing the use of flowers to be both benefiting the consumer and the bees. We at Bleu Belle Farm plant both edible for human, as well as for bees and butterflies. Chef Dominique Crenn loves California-native plants, which can really widen our ‘consumer base’ to migrating birds and beneficial insects in our garden. It’s giving our guests another level to an experience in any of our restaurants. My favorite is tarragon—perfect with fish and stands on its own!”

 


Chef Todd Fisher

Culinary Ambassador for Duda Farm Fresh Foods and Vice President Culinary & Hospitality Operations for Folktale Winery & Vineyards, Seventh & Dolores Steakhouse, Pacific Bowls & Rolls, and Rise + Roam


“Really? Picking a favorite herb to use in the kitchen is like picking my favorite kid! I’ll go with my favorite edible flower—the alium blossom. They grow like wildflowers in parts of the country, but they are also available at farmers markets and specialty stores (or they could be in your backyard!). They give a distinct ‘oniony’ flavor and are the perfect stand-in to the celery-onion-carrot combo known as ‘mire poix.’ They are complementary in dishes much like chives, only prettier. Add them to salads, the top of your deviled eggs, or use them to finish a dish coming off the grill and wow your guests.”

 


Michael Schutt

Senior Category Manager, Produce and Floral, Raley’s

 
“I feel that the renaissance the category has enjoyed has been fueled by culinary bravery and really taking the gloves off when it comes to incorporating fresh herbs into all aspects of fresh fare. Long gone are the days of ‘a sprig of this’ or ‘a dash of that,’ and then calling it cooking with herbs. Today, herbs have permeated everything from cocktails to desserts, and the options in between are endless. Just thinking about this concept, I want to have mint-infused watermelon/cucumber water with this weekend’s brunch. I look forward to the two Triple Crown races of the season, with Juleps in hand, not being the ONLY time people think about using fresh herbs in a fresh way.”

 

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