Last weekend, instead of the usual fabulous summer flowers – sunflowers, zinnias, roses – we picked up our favorite alt-flowers from our farmer friend Keith Stewart. He sells the flowers from his alliums (members of the onion family) like onion, shallot and chive: long green stems topped by white modernist globes.We also buy Keith’s garlic scapes, the vivid green shoots that the forming underground garlic bulbs send up, that curl into beautiful tendrils. Two or three scapes in a vase have a sculptural look that will change slightly daily. Garlic scapes are also delicious to eat. When they are young and tender, we slice them on an extreme diagonal and braise them in extra-virgin olive oil or butter with a bit of water and salt, until they are tender. Their texture is like a string bean with a delicate flavor of mellowed garlic.
Because they are the byproduct of an edible crop, allium flowers usually cost little, last quite a long time, and are wonderful to look at. They have the added virtue of being edible. Allium flowers are really clusters of tiny individual flowers; you can pull them apart to sprinkle in salads… on just about any cooked vegetable…eggs…for a little hit of onion flavor.
Related post: On Tomatoes and Improvising