White Acacia and Cucumber Salad : Edible Flowers

While mimosa makes me think of the last days of winter in Provence, white acacia flowers evoke late spring. It’s not only the sweet scent that appeals to me, but also the taste. Beignets de fleurs d’acacia, acacia flower fritters, are a seasonal treat, a crisp confection dusted with powdered sugar. The acacia season is fleeting, but it overlaps with that of rose de mai, so when I visit Grasse for the harvest, I try to time it to taste the beignets.

What I call white acacia is really a black locust tree (robinia pseudoacacia), a common plant in both Europe and the United States, blooming in April-May, depending on the region. I’ll continue calling it white acacia, because that’s the name most familiar to me–and besides, it’s prettier. Whatever you call it, it’s edible, and the flowers taste like sugar snap peas, but sweeter and more delicate. Since it’s an invasive plant, one might as well forage for it and eat it.

The flavor inspired me to pair acacia blossoms with other seasonal vegetables like cucumbers, green onions and dill. The dressing for the salad is one of my favorites for any salad leaves, spinach, chard or zucchini. It’s lemony, with a bright licorice accent of dill and a sharp bite of spring onions. Acacia stands up well to the dressing. If I want to make this salad into a lunch dish or a light dinner, I add grilled cod (the miso-marinated version, for instance) or sauteed chicken slices.

Another idea for using acacia flowers is to add them to a drink. I shared a recipe for an acacia tisane last year. A few blossoms floating in a café blanc enhance the orange blossom flavor. In a rhubarb sherbet, it reveals the violet like notes of the sour plant (swap rose water for orange blossom in my recipe). Or you can strew flowers over a fruit salad or ice cream. It looks beautiful and it tastes delicious.


White Acacia and Cucumber Salad
Serves 4

3 racemes of white acacia (black locust tree blossoms)
3 medium cucumbers
2 spring onions
a few sprigs of dills
lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper

Separate acacia blossoms from their stems and set aside. Slice cucumbers thinly (you can peel them if you like). Mix herbs and the ingredients for the dressing. Dress the salad before serving and sprinkle the acacia flowers at the last moment. Enjoy!

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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20 Comments

  • Carla: Wonderful and original – no one has made a perfumer’s cookbook as far as I know; your intro about beignets in Grasse and other bits like that would make for a special cookbook indeed! May 25, 2018 at 8:38am Reply

    • Maria: I second the perfumer’s cookbook!! I will love to have that!! May 25, 2018 at 12:53pm Reply

    • Sherry: Thanks for the wonderful suggestion, I would love to have a copy! Victoria – I am sure many loyal BdJ readers will preorder if this is on your list! May 25, 2018 at 1:27pm Reply

      • Victoria: Thank you very much, Sherry! May 27, 2018 at 7:53am Reply

    • Victoria: There is at least one book in French that I know of that tried to collect recipes from perfumers, but I can’t recall the name off the top of my head. May 27, 2018 at 7:58am Reply

  • Emilie: I always love your recipe posts! Can’t wait to try this one especially as I think I have (almost!) all of the ingredients in my garden and greenhouse. May 25, 2018 at 9:59am Reply

    • Victoria: Please let me know how it turns out. 🙂 May 27, 2018 at 7:57am Reply

  • Qwendy: Great idea, thanks! I think I have been seeing these around here in Brittany …. love edible flowers … I have been adding orange flower water to my carrot salads and it is delicious! May 25, 2018 at 10:42am Reply

    • Victoria: You can also add orange blossom water to this salad, if you don’t have acacia. It’s an old Armenian recipe I learned from a friend, and I love the way the floral accent brightens the rest of the flavors. May 27, 2018 at 7:56am Reply

  • Geraldine Ethen: I now have a new word: raceme. I had to look it up. Thank you! May 25, 2018 at 11:39am Reply

  • Sandra: Yum! I wonder where I can find these in NYC May 25, 2018 at 5:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: In Central Park. Their website complains that they’re invasive, so you should be able to pick a few branches without much trouble. May 27, 2018 at 7:53am Reply

  • Jodee: Adding these flowers to ice cream sounds dreamy. Straight out of a fairytale! Thanks for the suggestion! May 26, 2018 at 2:03am Reply

    • Victoria: My pleasure! These flowers have such a great flavor that you can devise many ways of using them. May 27, 2018 at 7:51am Reply

  • Eudora: Hello Victoria -and perfume lovers,
    I read this and thought you would love it.

    https://www.economist.com/obituary/2018/05/12/bassam-ghraoui-died-on-may-1st May 27, 2018 at 4:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: May he rest in peace.

      Thank you very much. Sandra also sent it to me, but I’m glad you’ve posted it here. May 28, 2018 at 1:16am Reply

  • Aurora: This salad must be so refreshing. I absolutely love dill with cucumber and yogurt too. Where I worked there was an acacia tree but the company moved and now I no longer see this beautiful tree. May 28, 2018 at 7:52am Reply

    • Victoria: I like to make a Persian version of a cucumber salad with yogurt and dried rose petals. Floral notes in savory dishes make them taste more complex. May 29, 2018 at 1:56pm Reply

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