When autumn arrives, the next thing on your plate is winter. You comfort yourself with warm soups and fall harvest vegetables, but don’t you sometimes wish you could bottle up the warm summer sunshine to open on the dreary days of winter? That is where the pansy comes in.

Devouring Flowers?

The pansy is not only a nearly year-round-blooming flower, but it is also edible. From pancakes to cookies to warm autumn-evening soup, many delightful recipes that include pansies will brighten up autumn.

Pansies are considered a cool-weather bloomer, so you can enjoy their beauty for much of the year. To plant them strategically for your climate, sow seeds once the last frost hits and again in summer to ensure a full fall bloom. While we might typically associate the flower with spring and summer, the pansy is happiest in spring, autumn, and mild winter—providing color and sweetness to our autumn tables in surprising ways.

Eating Dessert First

The mantra “eat dessert first” has a delightful ring to it, and the pansy falls right in line with the best of desserts. Since this flower has a mildly sweet and sometimes wintergreen flavor (depending on the variety), many use it as an ingredient in desserts. For a light dessert, pansies go nicely with pears, complementing the delicate flavor of this late-summer or early-autumn harvest fruit.

A simply delicious way to pair the two is to slice the pear thinly, arranging it as you like on a dessert plate, and to sprinkle clean, dry pansy blossoms as desired over the pear slices. Then drizzle honey lightly across the plate to create a fragrant, sweet treat.

Another lovely, though not as light, dessert is the pansy shortbread cookie as seen on the blog Silver Spoon Catering. What is most surprising here is how the flower’s colors remain vibrant, shining through the glittery sugar sprinkling. Step-by-step instructions for this scrumptious treat and other pansy recipes can be found on the website.


Enhancing Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

If you are looking to add a few extra rays of sunshine to your morning, pansy pancakes are sweet to look at and to eat. The pansies add a soft texture and a bright splash of color to every bite.

On the savory side of the plate, pan sies add a cheery flair to omelets, soups, and pastas. The possibilities for these happy blossoms are nearly endless. Salads will never be the same again once graced with purples, pinks, blues, and the many other eye-catching colors of this tasty flower.

Getting Started

To begin your pansies experiment, you can look for the blossoms at local farmers’ markets, in organic sections of supermarkets, and at specialty grocery stores. But clipping pansies right from your own garden is the most reliable option for having the freshest flowers for your dish. As with any new food, it is important to add only small amounts of pansies to your diet at first, until you are able to see how your body metabolizes and reacts to them.

One parting word of caution: if you make a habit of using pansies in your fall cooking, winter might sneak up on you before you even know it!

Laura Jackson