Flower Power: Local Chefs Use Microgreens and Edible Flowers to Add Powerful Color and Flavor to Dishes
Delicate microgreens and tiny edible blooms are popping up at restaurants across the region, adding a burst of color to translucent slices of sashimi and brightness to fatty meats like pork belly. But glorified garnishes these are not, packing, as they do, a flavor wallop their full-size brethren can only dream of. “It’s all the energy of the plant trapped in a baby sprout,” says 80 Thoreau chef Carolyn Johnson, who spruces up her dishes with tangy gem marigolds, fragrant micro cilantro, and garlicky chive blossoms from places like the Blue Heron Organic Farm, in Lincoln (which also supplies Sam’s, Trade, and Aka Bistro). The produce comes at a premium—Johnson says she pays between $20 and $40 a pound for her microgreens—but the payoff is worth it. “As soon as you chop herbs, you lose all the flavor,” explains chef Champe Speidel of Persimmon, in Bristol, Rhode Island. With micros, “you can reincorporate those great herbs without having to chop them up.” Pretty and powerful? Sometimes it really is what’s on the inside that counts.