Lilac Lemon Salad

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Remember how I said that playing with berries was the best part of summer dishes?

I was wrong. I was dead wrong.

Playing with the flavors of berries is one thing…but playing with flowers in dishes is a whole new experience. Mere hours before creating this dish I tasted my very first flower. I was swept up in childlike wonder. My eyes suddenly opened to this whole new world that was there the whole time. A well-kept secret hidden in plain sight.

I was absolutely awestruck.

The possibility of combining two of my favorite things fueled a passion I’ve never felt before. Hours in the kitchen felt like minutes and before I knew it this beautiful salad was born. Lilacs naturally have a distinct lemony taste with pungent overtones, so I paired the lovely lemony flower with very mild vegetables and poured a lemon dressing over top. I wanted lemon to be the star of the show, and to my delight, it shined so brightly that (even days later) I can’t help but smile when thinking about this little summer salad.

A little side note on the lemon in this salad. My family is obsessed with lemon, we like flavor and love it when our salad packs a punch. I adapted the lemon dressing from Jamie Oliver’s Garden Salad, adding more than one of the most recognized chef’s out there and it still wasn’t enough. We ended up doing 5 tablespoons of lemon in the dressing to please our taste buds, but you do you!

Playing and experimenting with your food is the greatest part of cooking. Start with three tablespoons and slowly add more from there to make your taste buds happy. You can’t go wrong as long as you listen to your tummy, I promise!

As far as I can tell, there is no other salad quite like this one. A secret between just you and me. I know you’re ready to get right into it however, there are a few key points we must go over about cooking with flowers before we can get started.

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  • Be absolutely sure what kind of flower you’ve got ready to pop in your mouth. Not all flowers are edible and can be poisonous. If you’ve got any doubt at all about the kind of flower you’ve got DON’T eat it!
  • Never eat flowers found by a roadway or a park. Roadway flowers are often covered in dust and exhaust from passing vehicles. As for parks, you never know if they’ve been sprayed with pesticides. Don’t risk it. Pesticides aren’t good for people.
  • Never eat flowers you pick up from a store or nursery unless you know for certain that they are guaranteed pesticide free. Again, pesticides aren’t good for people.

While I can’t say what pesticides were sprayed on most nursery flowers  (if any), just know that pesticides once sprayed on a plant don’t last forever. Check out this link here to find out the half-life of some pesticides. Five half-lives is deemed safe for consumption (eg. if a half-life was deemed 7 days, you could arguably eat it in 35 days). A scary topic I know, but just think about what’s sprayed on wheat and vegetables you buy that follow the same rule. 

So what I’m trying to say, even if you did buy perennials from your local store years or several months ago -you’re likely good to go! My own lilacs were bought from a nursery over eight years ago! Of course, I am by no means an expert in pesticides, so if you know any different please let me know! 

  • Growing edible flowers from seed are the safest way to enjoy edible flowers without worrying about pesticides.
  • If you’re new to eating flowers, eat only small amounts (Don’t worry, the amount in this salad is small. I got you covered. I’m a flower newbie too). For most people eating edible flowers is fine, but for some -especially those with allergies and food sensitivities there is a small chance of flowers causing an allergic reaction.

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Whew. That was a lot. Are you still there? Hopefully I didn’t scare you off.

This really is a delightful salad and I’d hate to have you avoid it out of fear. Eating flowers isn’t that scary so long as you know where they came from and that you’ve certainly got the right kind! So if you’re ready to enjoy a secret that the majority of the world is too slow to catch up on turn up “Walkin’ In Memphis” by Marc Cohn and let’s get started!

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Serves: 6   Prep Time: 15 minutes   Total Time: 15 minutes

  • 5 oz (approximately 5 cups) of baby mixed greens, washed
  • 1/2 a cucumber, sliced and quartered
  • 3/4 cup of cauliflower, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of lilac flowers

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In a large bowl combine the washed baby greens, quartered cucumber, and cauliflower chopped as thinly as desired. Set aside.

In a jar or other sealed container combine lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, and sea salt. Shake until well mixed. Be sure to start with 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and dip a leafy green into your dressing to try it. Add more lemon slowly, shaking and trying the dressing each time you add more until you’ve reached your desired ‘lemon-y ness’.

Now that you’re happy with your dressing, it’s time to move on to the best part… the lilacs!

Pick a few branches off your lilac bush and don’t be afraid to pick more than you need! The extra branches make a perfect (not to mention beautiful) centerpiece at the table – especially for this meal.

Before we start picking the flowers off, fill up a small dish with cold water. This will keep the flowerheads from drooping or wilting while you pick the rest.

Grab a branch and gently remove the delicate flowers by grabbing the base of the flowerhead and pulling upwards. Place each removed flower in the cold water,  repeating until you’ve got two tablespoons of flowers. Rinse and drain the flowers thoroughly. Set aside.

Put the rest of the branches in a vase or mason jar on the table.

Toss together the dressing and the salad. Sprinkle the delicate lilacs overtop of your fresh greens, then dish up and enjoy your summer salad!

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That’s all there is to this absolutely stunning summer salad!

Health & Happiness,


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By Savannah

Hi! I'm Savannah. Welcome to The Humble Kitchen, where good food and health walk hand in hand. My cooking style involves a lot of listening to a single song on repeat, improvising ingredients, eyeballing measurements, and crossing my fingers that this thing actually turns out. Stay for the food, enjoy the stories, and join me on a journey to heal eczema through good food.