Summer Greek Salad with Shrimp and Marigolds

Summer Greek Salad with Marigolds and Shrimp

It sounds slightly wacko, this idea of eating flowers.  Not just flowers, but marigolds, of all things.

But I am a farm girl, and I figured that since chickens eat marigolds (did you know that?),and we eat eggs, then marigolds must be good for us! Actually, marigolds are better than good… more on that in a minute.  So why not consume the marigolds even more directly? For anyone who has never been around a chicken coop — chickens eat growing things of every color if left to their own devices.  Meaning — if they are truly free range and can get outside to enjoy bugs and flowers and plants, they are healthier and produce beautiful eggs with gorgeous yolks, high in nutrition.

Marigolds in a Window Box

Chickens are often given marigolds to make their egg yolks a deeper yellow, which is especially nice in the winter time when they spend less time outside eating vibrant colors in their happy chicken yard. The really lucky thing is that besides the beautiful yellow color of marigold leaves, all that vibrant yellow color contains two wonder ingredients — lutein and zeaxanthin — vital food for healthy eyes. Eating enough lutein and zeaxanthin (most Americans don’t) can prevent or slow macular degeneration. Macular Degeneration  is a serious subject and you can learn more here. Keeping healthy vision is reason enough to eat marigold leaves. But then there is the subject of color — the vibrant sunset colors of marigolds.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh!  Adding marigold leaves to a salad makes the entire salad come alive with color. In my book, any way to make food more beautiful is simply icing on the cake. Marigolds could be my new favorite salad ingredient.  I don’t know.  They are bright.  They are healthy.  There is a fierce competition going on in my kitchen, however, between red and green shiso and marigolds.  I’ll update you, I’m sure you can’t wait to hear. So far, I think the marigolds are winning, and to be fair, it’s probably because I have them planted everywhere.  There is something to be said for strength in numbers.

Edible Flowers -- Marigolds

By the way, pansies and nasturtiums are edible as well, and used often in gourmet salads.  Substitute freely if those are more available. The benefits of marigolds are many, and not just for your diet, or the diet of your chickens.  According to Mother Earth News marigolds help ward off pests in the garden.  Sprinkle them everywhere in your garden. Planted in borders around a garden, or in rows next to vegetable crops, marigolds are an above ground trap for Japanese beetles. But did you know that marigolds are at work below the surface of the soil in your garden as well? Underground, they ward off nematodes, which attack the roots of plants.  Good for marigolds, my new heroes! Here is a recipe for a summer salad that is flexible and easy.  This list of ingredients is for starters.  Feel free to add or subtract depending on your tastes. When preparing food, just remember that color is key.  The more colors in the meal, the more nutrition present, guaranteed. To your health!

Summer Greek Salad with Shrimp and Marigolds

Romaine lettuce — a large handful per person
Soaked pumpkin seeds — 1 T. per person.  See “Soaking Nuts”  note below.
Chopped green onions — about 1 T. per person
Kalamata Olives — about 5 per person, or to taste.
Tomatoes — chopped fresh.  About 1/2 tomato per person.  Use heirlooms if available.
Fresh oregano leaves — to taste.  Or the leaves from a 6″ tall spike per person.
Marigold leaves — the leaves from one or two marigold flowers per person, depending on the size of the marigold.  Put in enough to make a color splash!
*********
Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar — 2-3 tsp. per person
Olive Oil — 1 T. per person
Salt and Pepper to taste
*********
Feta Cheese — 2 T. per person
Cooked Shrimp — 5 large Shrimp per person
 
Combine romaine through marigold leaves.  Toss with the simple dressing of cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and cracked pepper, or your dressing of choice.  Divide onto plates.  Sprinkle each serving with crumbled feta cheese (it looks nicer than adding it before tossing).  Arrange cooked shrimp on top. 
 
Oh, and expect “oooo’s and ahhhh’s.”
 
Soaking Nuts — Soaking seeds and nuts is a great benefit nutritionally and they are easier to digest.   For starters, go to The Nourishing Gourmet.  She gives directions for soaking any kind of nut.  You can simply put them in a small bowl, cover with spring water, and soak overnight in the refrigerator.  You can also soak them in salt water, which is what The Nourishing Gourmet suggests. 
 

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Terri Crosby

Helping you create life-affirming, ever-evolving, happier relationships with those you love. Follow me on twitter at@TerriCrosby or read myblog.

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