Blossoms rarely come to the table in any form other than a bouquet. Fruits, vegetables, and even seeds are eaten in many ways, but flowers are generally overlooked as a source of food. Maybe we find them too pretty to eat.
But broccoli, of course, is a flower, which is eaten just before the buds burst into full bloom. Cauliflower, or flowering cabbage, even by virtue of its name, is a blossom not fully opened. And there are other examples of vegetables which, while not in full bloom in the usual sense, are eaten in their preflowering stage.
True blooms of various plants are also edible and lend themselves to interesting preparations. Squash blossoms, for instance, are a good example of a commonly neglected but delicious food item.
When the squash plant is in full glory, it is easy to distinguish the male from the female blossom. The stem of the male flower is long and slender. The female stem, however, soon becomes recognizable as it begins to swell, signaling the beginning of squash development.
The male blossom, having served its purpose in the pollination process, will drop off. These now useless blossoms may be gathered for use in the kitchen.
Daylilies, those prolific and decorative gold and orange blossoms seen along many a roadside, are very hardy plants which multiply dramatically over a period of years.
They're seldom considered in terms of food, but the daylily bud, as is also the case with the budding squash blossom, may be sauteed, seasoned, and served as a new and different ''vegetable.''
Fully opened blossoms may be dipped in a thin batter and fried. Other uses include stuffing fully developed flowers with a variety of mixtures and baking them. Although blossoms are fragile and must be handled very carefully, stuffing possibilities are limited only by the cook's imagination. Stuffed Blossoms 3 parts ground Italian sausage 1 part onion, chopped 1 part green pepper, chopped Tomato sauce Parmesan cheese Daylily or squash blossoms
Prepare amounts needed using these proportions. Crumble sausage in a skillet with onion and green pepper and saute until lightly browned.
Drain off excess fat. Add enough tomato to bind mixture. Season with Parmesan. Stuff blossoms. Place in greased baking dish and bake in moderate oven until heated through.
Fresh flowers may also be used as salad ingredients. Violets in the spring, can be incorporated in a tossed salad. The flavor is delicate, the coloring is delightful, and the leaves are delectable, too.
A word of caution: Just because many blossoms are appetizingly edible, many are not. Some not only taste unpleasant, they can be toxic, too.