What does your mental checklist look like when you think “romantic evening”? Does it include picnicking? Flowers? Music? Dancing? Sunsets? Selfies? Walking hand in hand?
Spur-of-the-moment picnic? We have you covered.
A romantic picnic need not be formal or fancy. The secret to making it romantic is a personal touch—something that both reflects your personality and makes the evening more fun. It could be a picnic blanket with a story. It could be real plates/glasses/flatware instead of plastic. It could be a home-cooked meal or an out-of-the-ordinary beverage.
One of our favorite ways to make picnic fare more special—whether it’s homemade or store-bought—is with edible flowers.
Gathered from your garden or from a trusted source (no florists or foraged flowers, please—read why here), edible flowers can make even the simplest dish taste more interesting and look decidedly more romantic:
Violas or pansies come in beautiful and dramatic colors (including near-black), and are shaped like little hearts. Their flavor is sweet and perfumed. Conversation starter: the word “pansy” comes from the French “pensée,” or “thought.”
Nasturtium flowers’ summery colors—yellow, orange, red—beg to be tossed into salad greens, where they’ll deliver a bit of bite (peppery, radish-like). Decorate cheeses, dips, and even a humble potato salad with nasturtiums’ edible blossoms (the pretty leaves are edible, too).
Rose petals are quintessentially romantic. Use the petals from heirloom roses rather than hybrids—the former have the fragrance and thin delicacy that the latter do not. Add rose petals to salads, ice creams, homemade vinegars; candied, they’ll store for months.
Lavender buds are delicious sprinkled on a fruit salad (terrific with berries, cherries, figs). Lavender has more than fragrance and flavor to offer: it’s a natural source of calcium, iron, and vitamin A.
Chive blossoms are so beautifully purple that you’ll be tempted to use them on everything, but a little of their onion flavor goes a long way. Float a few florets on a chilled potato-leek or spring pea soup for all the extra zip you’ll need.
As for the last item on the checklist—walking hand in hand—we’ll leave that to you.
©2014 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org