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  • Katie Calautti

The Delight of Spring Yard Eats

The upside of emerging from an exceedingly harsh winter is the gift of an exceptionally buoyant spring. It could be that I spent two straight months staring at a landscape whipped white by continuous peltings of snow, but I could swear this season's blooms have been more bountiful, their petals particularly vibrant.

Last year, I dipped my toe into the vast ocean of foraging and—well, if I'm to continue with this metaphor, let's just say I laid back and let the saltwater buoy me. It was more about the thrill of discovering edible plants and flowers sprouting in my backyard than the concoctions I created with my bounty. This spring, I vowed to be more discerning, pushing myself to incorporate my finds into slightly more advanced creations.

I started with the most ambitious attempt—homemade pasta with foraged violets and field garlic. I used this recipe and posted an Instagram reel of the process. While the pasta-making was far easier than I expected (just eggs, salt, flour, and some elbow grease), the actual violet incorporation was but a lovely plum-hued dream.

I don't have a pasta machine, so I hand-rolled the flowers into the dough. The pretty purple-flecked strips sure did look impressive as they dried, but the moment the noodles hit boiling water, the petals evacuated their doughy beds and floated to the top. I styled my final shot with some bits of violet because I couldn't bear to lose them completely. I've seen other recipes call for rolling the flowers between two very thin sheets of pasta (alas, impossible by amateur hand)—I suspect that'd result in trapping them during the boiling process.

I kept my next project simple with lilac flower-infused honey. The process is more meditative than complicated. I used this recipe for reference and cut the perfumed blooms from a massive bush next to the farm's driveway (walks to the mailbox have been quite the sensory experience), then marveled as I watched them float, jewel-like, in honey from the beekeeper down the block.

Pick (unsprayed!) lilacs, pull off the flowers, pour honey over them, and let the batch sit for a month or so. The flowers float to the top, so stir them back down every few days. Once it's ready, you can strain the petals out or eat them (I think they look beautiful slathered all golden-dewy-blush on a slice of crisp browned toast). Here's an Instagram reel I made showing how I did it.

And for my final foraged springtime delicacy, I made dandelion flower fritters. Don't let their bitter greens (excellent in salads!) or sour-smelling juicy stems (hello, flower crowns!) fool you—the flowers are mild-flavored and chock full of antioxidants, to boot. After foraging and washing a few cups of the tops, I referred to this super-easy recipe, which I halved. (This recipe, while a bit more complicated, includes an excellent guide on identifying and trimming dandelions.)

Here's an Instagram reel of the full process. I drizzled these decadent little bites with honey and they tasted like a donut-pancake hybrid, aka: eminently poppable. You can also top them with powdered sugar or add savory herbs (thyme! rosemary!) or spices (paprika! cayenne!) to the batter—they can easily be customized savory or sweet. One bite and you'll think twice about calling these sunny yellow babies weeds. How uncivilized!

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