I derive much delight in a trip to the local nursery, which inevitably means I arrive with a budget promise to myself that “I will under no circumstances spend more than R300” – after all, all I need is a creeper that grows in shade and a couple of trays of cheapie herb seedlings. And…..well….I walk out having spent R1000 more than my sacred budget allowance and a packed full: 3 x star jasmine creepers, a 5m squared tray of Berea grass plugs, a bag of compost because one always needs some more; a new pair of clippers (the ones with a much needed safety catch to guard against little fingers), a set of plant markers and 8 trays of herb seedlings – hmmmmm! I cannot blame the overly friendly sales guy, nor can I blame the sunshine and sweet smell of jasmine in the air…it is the curse of nursery retail therapy…in my world anyway!
So instead of settling in to an afternoon of cracking some inching deadlines – I abandoned my office for a gardening session with the girls. After all, we had an entire herb garden to plant, mark and water AND the sun was shining for us…
And whilst we were busy getting muddy, my mind wondered to the joys of the ever-so-slightly warmer air, the longer days, the smells of spring and for some reason…..to salads!
There is nothing better than an oversized, hand crafted bowl of fresh greens – tossed together in a seemingly haphazard way but with careful thought and selection. A great friend of mine has a saying “Green leaves, give me green leaves!”…and it comes from her discovering how delicious the right blend of green leaves can be!
And in my thought process, which let’s face it – tends to wander and waiver – I land on the pretty little viola petals smiling up at me from their new homes in our herb garden. Strikingly bright yellows (Belles favourite for the week), velvety rich deep plums, vibrant purples and creamy whites – and I am thinking just how gorgeous these would look in that salad!
So after a bit of research on edible flowers and without further ado – I am celebrating the coming of sweet spring with a new addition to my stalwart salad recipe…inspired now by a splash of delicate but bold colour and goodness in the form of VIOLAS which are not only aesthetically appealing but also full of phytochemicals and medicinal constituents that have been used in the treatment of numerous health issues from the common cold, to cancer.
IN A LARGE, EARTHY BOWL, TOSS TOGETHER WELL RINSED, BEAUTIFULLY FRESH INGREDIENTS SUCH AS:
- A mix of fresh rocket, red spinach and mint leaves – untorn
- Halved cherry tomatoes
- Finely diced cucumber – de-skinned if preferred
- Chunks of good quality Danish feta – sprinkle using fingers rather than cutting evenly
Shavings of parmesan cheese
- Large slivers of perfectly ripe avocado
- Handful of mixed seeds including sesame, linseed, poppy etc
- Thinly sliced rings of raw red onion
- A boiled egg – halved
Toss with good quality extra virgin olive oil (have you tried the unpressed variety produced by Kadimah Olives – it is truly delicious?) and garnish with your beautifully bright viola petals and a sprinkling of eat.art’s gourmet “Caprese” gourmet spice mix. Perfect for a weekend lunch on the lawn or even a dinner party alfresco style!
Written for eat.art by: Nancy Hoepner – Magpie Creative
Only slightly exhausted mother-of-two delicious girls, lover of food (fine and fast), purveyor of all things pretty and Jill of all things ‘creative’…Nancy has a background in the visual arts, design and marketing and is the owner of Magpie Creative. Having worked with the eat-art team before, she is thrilled, and slightly bewildered to have been asked to (take time out from juggling and) add some spice to the eat.art blog. Don’t get us wrong….it’s not that it needs it….it just wants more…and she is happy to oblige.