Cooking with Flowers: 3 Spring Recipes to Cook Up from Oasi Zegna

Image from “FLOWER LANDSCAPES. Fabrics. Flowers. Recipes.” Courtesy of Marsilio Editori.

When Ermenegildo Zegna acquired the Heberlein fabric archive, thousands upon thousands of fabric swatches were made available as inspiration to the house’s talented designer, Stefano Pilati. (There are over 2,200 books with fabrics from the 1920s through 1980s to look through, separated into many categories, one of which is Flowers.) With this new wealth of inspiration, Zegna brought in curator Maria Luisa Frisa, the artists Lucy and Jorge Orta, and chef Davide Oldani to create Fabulae Naturae, an artistic event combining food, florals, and art, just in time for Milan Expo 2015. A celebration took place at Zegna headquarters in early May. If you’ll be in Milan, drive a few hours out to the Oasi Zegna in the mountain town of Trivero to see contemporary art housed at the oasis and view the archive exhibition in person.

To coincide with the celebration of food and flowers, a book of recipes was released, featuring beautiful collages of the floral fabrics (as seen above) paired with recipes with flowers and herbs at their core. Lucky for us, we can bring inspiration from the archives right into our kitchens. So in honor of spring, here are three spring recipes to cook up now: nettle soup with chive flowers, marinated trout with sage and wild garlic, and elderberry and basil flower sorbet. Buon appetito!

Nettle soup with chive flowers

200 g nettle tops
2 potatoes
1 white onion
around 1 1/2 l vegetable stock
30 g butter
1 spoon chive flowers
thin slices of bread

Wash the nettles, grain well and shop coarsely. Wash and slice the onion, put it in a casserole with half the butter, cover and sweat. Add the nettles, mix and stew for a few minutes, then add the potatoes (peeled and diced), pour in the stock, cover and cook for around 30 minutes. Put the soup through a mill or work it with a and blender. Spread the remaining butter on the bread, lightly toast it in the oven and dust it with the grated nutmeg. Serve in bowls garnishes with chive flowers and accompanied with the croutons (separately).


Marinated trout with sage and wild garlic

1 large rainbow trout (around 800 g)
2 sticks celery (white or green but must be tender)
in season salad
1 dl fresh cream
1 green lemon (or lime)
1 teaspoon of dill
1 teaspoon of sage flowers
1 teaspoon of wild garlic flowers
apple vinegar
bay leaf

Mix the lemon juice with the cream, add salt and pepper and put in the fridge. Wash the salad, drain thoroughly and lay out on a large serving dish. Wash the celery, remove its stringy filaments, slice it thin and add to the salad. Prepare a court-bouillon with water, onion, aromatics and a little apple vinegar. Cook the trout for 20 minutes or so. While it’s still hot, remove the skin and bones and, with your fingers, gently break the flesh along its natural segments, arrange on top of the vegetables, sprinkle dill over it and dress with the sour cream. Serve immediately.


Elderberry and basil flower sorbet

225 g sugar
250 ml still mineral water
100 ml moscato wine
12 corymbs elderberry (newly blossomed)
flowers of 5 sprigs red basil
2 lemons
1 egg white

Boil the water with the sugar for 4 minutes and then pour it over the flowers. Leave to cool. Drain off, pressing well, add the wine, lemon juice and eff white (lightly beaten), mix well and put in the ice cream machine for long enough to adequately solidify the sorbet. Serve decorated with elderberry and basil flowers.


Receipes from “FLOWER LANDSCAPES. Fabrics. Flowers. Recipes.” Courtesy of Marsilio Editori.

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