The idea of eating uncooked vegetables for heath reasons has long been known in the Mediterranean basin. Greek doctors and herbalists of the first and second centuries anno domino agreed that lettuce, chicory, and rocket were good for the stomach. There were other pleasing effects, too. Rocket “provoked venery” and taste slightly butter enlivening salad flavours.
Lettuce was believed to benefit nursing mothers of its milky sap. Best of all, it soothed peoples to sleep.
Greeks and Romans also attempted to preserve salad greens in salt and vinegar, brine.
There are now many salad greens, starting with romaine, endive, Belgium endive, curly endive, chicory, Napa cabbage, Savoy cabbage, butter head lettuce, spinach, arugula, lamb’s lettuce (aka mache), iceberg lettuce, mizuna (aka mustard green), oak leaf lettuce (aka bib lettuce), celery, scallions, cucumbers, watercress, anise, parsley, just to name a few.
But today many also add tomatoes, or red and green peppers, grated carrots and a range of herbs to enhance flavour and provide a more eclectic taste dimension.
One thing salads lack though is colour – they are monochromatic. This is the reason for adding tomatoes and peppers. Of late chefs have come to realize that the world of flowers offers a very large and intriguing range of colours, textures, tastes and aromas.
They add visual appeal to a salad, but must be sprinkled after the dressing has been applied and the salad is tossed.
Here are some flowers can safely add to your salads. (Not all flowers are safe to eat. Use flowers you grow or buy from reputable sources) and never use wilted flowers).
You can preserve flowers by drying, freezing, or by steeping petals in oil.
Artichoke flower bud, broccoli flower bud, cauliflower bud, capers, cannabis, chives, chrysanthemum, citrus blossoms clover, daisies, dandelions day lilies, elderflower, hibiscus, honey suckle, jasmine, lilac, nasturtiums, pansies, pot marigolds, sunflowers, violets, zucchini blossoms, and rose petals.