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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Marigold Scalloped Potatoes

I garden in service of my cooking, so I don't usually give space or attention to plants I can't eat.  I made an indulgent exception this year and planted two boxes of annual flowers, including marigolds.  Well, as it turns out, you CAN eat marigolds!  Who knew!

Well, I've seen Monsoon Wedding so I sort of knew that marigolds were edible, but I'd never considered cooking with them until I ran across a recipe for marigold-sauced cauliflower.  Marigolds can evidently be dried and used as a saffron substitute, mostly for their coloring properties though they do have a lightly floral, slightly spicy flavor quality as well (I went outside and nibbled on one just to check). 

Citrus Garlic Roasted Chicken, with Marigold Scalloped
Potatoes and cucumbers
The following cheese sauce can be made ahead and frozen, if desired, for later use with any number of vegetables.  You could probably even fold veggies like broccoli or cauliflower into the sauce before freezing for a totally made-ahead veggie casserole.  Or you can use the sauce for scalloped potatoes, as follows, which can be made ahead and fridged for same-day or next-day cooking.

For a more spectacular presentation, don't chop the marigold petals.  Scatter them whole in between layers of potatoes.

Marigold Scalloped Potatoes
Makes 4-6 servings

6 marigold flower heads, washed, stemmed and finely chopped
1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup shredded cheese (any variety)
salt and pepper to taste
3 medium potatoes, scrubbed and sliced 1/4" thick

To prepare the flower petals, cut the petals off the green part of the flower (which contains the marigold seeds, if you're into saving seeds for gardening).  Finely mince the petals as you would fresh herbs.

Over medium heat, melt the butter and cook the onion until softened, about 5 minutes.  Whisk in the flour, and cook 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in the milk.  Raise heat to medium-high, until bubbles form, then reduce to medium and cook 5 minutes, stirring often.  Take off the heat and stir in cheese and marigolds. 

Grease a 1.5 quart covered casserole (a large loaf pan will work too, with a piece of greased foil for a lid).  Layer 1/2 the potatoes in the bottom, cover with 1/2 of the sauce, then the remaining potatoes and the remaining sauce.

To cook, bake covered for 1 - 1 1/4 hours at 350F (remove lid halfway through cooking), until the potatoes are soft when poked with a knife.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Pin It

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