This salad is ravishing! A radiant, fresh tangent from the usual winter dialogue of wheat, meat and sugar. Blissed out by the infusion of rose petals flirting so delicately with hues of green and citrus. The turnip cups are the most charming and edible serving-mobiles, and worth the kitchen playtime.
If I haven’t mentioned this before, you should probably know that I love nothing better than eating flowers. Yes, flowers. When I’m asked “what is your favorite food or dish?” I usually waffle on about how it’s impossible for me to choose! You see, I’m a well bread Italian eater, but I’m an awfully curious taster and adventurous cook. I tend to view most realms of my life as limitless, and my palate is no exception. When it comes down to it, I’m head-over-heels crazy about flowers.
I melt every time Bobby surprises me with a bouquet; it never gets old. When we venture into the pick-your-own fields at our CSA farm, I’m often dragged to the car whimpering “just one more sunflower!” (after Bobby has already picked me a bouquet). We were even married in a ring of sunflowers laid tenderly on the grass by my beloved sisters. I ate a tiger lilly for the first time this summer. I grow nasturtiums on my balcony and lavender in the front patch. I cleanse my face with honey and moisturize with rose water. I love the bloomin’ things!
So, when my friend Shanshan gave me a little pot of crystalized rose petals this weekend, shipped from China by her doting mom, I squealed with joy! (Easy recipe below for making these at home). I pinched a few petals from the jar immediately, and promptly began fantasizing about a dish fit for the kind of love I have for flowers. This also applies to your Valentine, may it be a best friend, true love, spontaneous date or your pet pooch.
Can you tell I’m craving summer, just a smidgeon?
Brussel Sprout, Clementine & Rose Petal Salad
For the Crystalized Rose Petals:
- 6 organic rose petals (unsprayed and pesticide free)
- 1 cup organic cane sugar
- 1 cup water
- About 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
For the Salad:
- 1 cup shredded brussel sprouts (about 30 baby or 15 large brussel sprouts)
- 3 clementines
- 1/4 cup finely minced flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1 cup water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 teaspoons crystalized rose petals
- 1 large carrot (about 5-inches long)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
For the Turnip Cups:
- 4 medium-size turnips
Crystalized Rose Petals:
- Rinse and pat dry the rose petals.
- Make your simple syrup: In a small saucepan, add the sugar and water and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the simple syrup from the heat and let it cool.
- Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick mat. Line a plate with paper towel. When the syrup has cooled, dip the rose petals into the syrup and gently shake off the excess. Place the petals on the paper towel and dust both sides of the petals with the extra tablespoons of sugar. Transfer the petals to the baking sheet and let them dry overnight in a cold oven. (Store for up to 1 week in an airtight container).
- Clean your brussels! If you have a farm-fresh stem of brussels, this will take some tender loving care. Separate the brussels from the stem, snip off the trunks of each brussel and peel away the ragged leaves. Rinse. In a food processor, or with a sharp knife, shred the brussel sprouts into small pieces and transfer them to a medium bowl.
- Dismember your clemmies! Remove the outer peel. For each precious wedge, strip away the translucent skin binding in the “locules.” Those juicy pods are the gold we are digging for. It’s a tedious process, but worth every pod. Collect all the pods in the same bowl as the shredded brussels.
- Add the minced parsley next and set the bowl aside while you prepare the carrots and dressing.
- Thinly slice the carrots length-wise, so you have long thin strips like a slap bracelet.
- In a small pot, add the water, cinnamon, honey and 2 teaspoons of crystalized rose petals. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add the carrot strips and cover the pot. Let the carrots simmer for about 7 minutes, until tender. Remove the carrots and chop them into mini sticks, about 1/2 inch long and 1/2 centimeter wide. Add the carrots to the salad bowl.
- Scoop out 1/3 cup of the cinnamon-honey-rose mixture for your dressing. Add the lime juice and salt, and stir well. Pour the dressing over the salad.
- Garnish the salad with the extra teaspoon of rose petals, or more! I like to decorate the plate with dried rose petals from my herbal tea stock.
- Scrub the skin of your turnips – no need to peel.
- Slice the ends off to create a flat surface for the turnip to stand up. Cut the turnip in half.
- On the wider end, use a small, sharp knife to carve a ring about 1/2 inch deep just inside the end of the turnip.
- Wedge a spoon into the carved ring and scoop out the inside of the turnip to create a cup. Try not to scoop too far down or you’ll carve a hole in the bottom of the turnip (which I did, and really, does it matter?).
- Spoon the salad into each cup and garnish with crystalized rose petals. The best part? It’s an edible serving bowl!