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Edible flowers top this pretty salad

Recipe: Spring strawberry salad with fresh violets

Plate with strawberries, violets, lettuce and radishes
As fresh and pretty as spring: Strawberry salad with fresh violets. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)


This vibrant spring salad is as flavorful as it is colorful. Both cut crosswise, fresh strawberries and radishes contrast nicely in both taste and texture. They look especially pretty combined with the rich greens of fresh spinach and leaf lettuce. (The variety used in this recipe: Red butterhead.)

The garnish is a conversation starter: Fresh violets. The white and blue varieties of Viola are edible.

Viola alba , the white perennial violet, is native to America’s woodlands. It’s a cast-iron ground cover in low-water gardens. It grows so easily, many gardeners consider it a weed.

If you can’t beat it, eat it. (Just make sure your violets haven’t been exposed to pesticides or herbicides.)
Pick your violets with about ½ inch of stem.

Plunge flowers immediately into ice-cold water. Keep them in cold water until ready to use. Other varieties of Viola may be substituted for violets; the smaller the varieties, the tastier.

White violets in a bowl of water
Put just-picked violets into very cold water to keep
them fresh.


Spring strawberry salad with fresh violets
Makes 2 to 4 servings

Ingredients:

4 to 6 strawberries, hulled and sliced crosswise
2 radishes, sliced
1 scallion, chopped
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
2 cups lettuce, roughly cut or torn into pieces
1 cup baby spinach leaves, roughly cut or torn into pieces

Dressing:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon seasoning salt

Garnish:
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh violets or violas (optional)

Instructions:

In a large bowl, put sliced strawberries, radishes, scallions, lettuce and spinach. Toss lightly.

In a jar, combine olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar and seasoning salt. Cover jar and shake to combine. Pour dressing over salad and toss lightly again.

Divide salad onto plates. Garnish with violets or violas. Serve immediately.

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RECIPE

A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist for week of April 7

The warm wave coming this week will shift weeds into overdrive. Get to work!

* Weed, weed, weed! Whack them before they flower.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash. Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias. Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom. April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

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