I love to experiment with spring flavors, and last Saturday was the first farmers’ market of the year, giving me the perfect opportunity. I couldn’t wait to hop onto my bike and ride downtown to the market, which was bustling with families hungry to be outdoors. I picked up some dark wildflower honey, bok choy, potato onions (which are related to shallots and similar to scallions), and beautiful flowering chives.
Tucking the honey into a cabinet to wait for us to scrape the dregs of our current jar, I dug around my kitchen and yard for ingredients to add to the rest of my finds and came up with a spring orzo salad. Have you had orzo? It’s a rice-shaped pasta that I grew up eating in Greek pilaf. It’s the perfect pasta for a salad with delicate ingredients like herb flowers.
I wanted to use the blossoms as well as the chives themselves, and this got me thinking about herbs and their flowers. I made a pesto with the chives and some herbs from my garden, which, in this case, included Greek oregano, rosemary, and sage, but you could come up with your own combination. The rosemary and sage were both flowering, so I plucked a handful of each type of blossom and added them to the salad. What represents spring more than flowers?
This salad is extra springalicious if you stir in a few teaspoons of violet water, which I will cover in my next post. The combination of flowers and herbs is like a spring explosion for your tastebuds.
Spring orzo salad
- 8 oz orzo or other tiny pasta (whole wheat if you can find it)
- 1 bunch bok choy
- 1 cup mixed herbs
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tbs pine nuts
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Olive oil
- Handful of radishes, chopped
- Potato onions or green onions, chopped
- 2 cups chickpeas
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1-2 cups herb flowers (if using chive blossoms, separate the individual flowers)
Cook the orzo according to package instructions. Chop the bok choy stems (not much bigger than the orzo) and coarsely chop the leaves. Saute the bok choy in olive oil until the stems are softened and the leaves wilted. Stir into orzo and let cool.
Blend the next three ingredients in a food processor or pestle and mortar, adding 1 tsp lemon juice and enough olive oil to make the pesto saucy. Once the orzo and bok choy have cooled to room temperature, stir in the pesto, radishes, onions, chickpeas, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you’re using violet water, stir in a couple of teaspoons along with the remaining lemon juice. Gently mix in the flowers, reserving some to sprinkle over the top.