Edible flowers used as a garnish or added to fresh salads brighten the meal and often add delicate flavor. The Arizona Cooperative Extension recommends removing the stems, pistil and stamens for best flavor and warns that you should only eat flowers that you are certain are safe. Edible flowers should be grown without pesticides and away from gardening areas where pesticides are used.
Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majos) make a colorful garnish with chicken or tuna salad and can be added to fresh salads. These spicy flowers range in color from brilliant yellow and dazzling orange to deep rich reds. Add nasturtiums to white wine and allow to steep in a dark area for a week or two, strain and serve as a tangy salad dressing.
Pansies (Viola species) are summer annuals that often reseed themselves in the home garden. These attractive flowers resemble the human face and appear to gaze upward. Used as a garnish for summer salads, topping for hor d'oeuvres or candied to preserve their wintergreen flavor, these delicate flowers also make attractive cake decorations for those occasions when you want to add a special touch.
Rose (Rosa species) petals add both flavor and fragrance to foods. Iowa State University recommends older roses like the rugosa variety for more intense flavor. Used as a garnish, added to fresh salads or used to make jelly, rose petals add a touch of romance to any meal.
Squash blossoms (Cucubita species) are prized for their delicate vegetable flavor and are served breaded and stuffed with breadcrumbs or savory cheeses. Dipping in a light batter and frying in a hot pan produces a quick summer treat. Cathey Wilkinson from the Texas AgriLife Extension Services reports that all squash blossoms are edible.
Violets (Viola odorata) add fragrance and delicate color. Use these miniature flowers to garnish sweet desserts, cakes and pastries. Try topping cupcakes and tarts with these flowers for summer parties. Violets can also be candied.