Dreamy Meyer Lemon Salad with Edible Violas

Belgian Endive, Mixed Baby Lettuces, Garden Fresh Italian Parsley, Violas
Fava Beans, Thinly-Sliced Meyer Lemon Wheels, Toasted Pine Nuts, Kalamata Olives
Dressed with Meyer Lemon Cream

Gail’s Meyer Lemon Tree (upper left) and Violas (lower right)

We’ll be hosting another one of our Sunken City Supper Club events soon, so my friend Gail and I have been busy in our “test kitchen” creating an exciting springtime menu. The Sunken City Supper Club is a fresh, local and secret place to seasonally mingle with friends and neighbors – to enjoy the camaraderie, great food, wine, the awesome intimate jazz standards (and perhaps a little dancing too) performed by local musicians Barry Anthony and Bill Ryan. We hold one event per season, and the menu always reflects seasonal ingredients.

The first absolute winner from our test kitchen is this gorgeous salad! The Meyer lemons are sliced thin, the entire fruit is edible, including the thin, soft, smooth rind. The violas, also known as Johnny Jump-ups, add beauty and a lovely mild pea flavor. It is imperative that we test every dish, not only for taste, but also to make sure we can prepare and serve the 5 courses to 24 people in a timely manner.

The Meyer lemon is a citrus fruit, native to China, thought to be a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin orange or sweet orange. The Meyer lemon was introduced to the United States in 1908 by the agricultural explorer Frank Nicholas Meyer. (more from wikipedia here)

Gail’s Violas

Fava Beans

Fava beans are definitely labor intensive. When I was guest Chef-For-A-Day in Charlie Trotter’s kitchen, shelling the fava beans was one of my prep assignments working the Garde Manger, the station where cold dishes are prepared. I learned that a few fava beans on the plate is all you need to give it a nice springtime accent.

In Charlie Trotter’s Kitchen
Michigan Heirloom Tomatoes with Fava Beans, Basil Seeds & Chervil

Back to My Kitchen

Remove the beans from the pod.

Cook in salted boiling water for 4 minutes.

Let cool, then remove the outer shell. It does take time to shell all the beans, so think of fava beans as a complement to the dish, not a major component. That way the beans don’t take up too much kitchen time.

Meyer Lemon Cream

  • 1/4 c. fresh meyer lemon juice
  • 2 T. finely diced shallot
  • 1/2 c. fruity olive oil
  • 1/4 c. mimiccream (or heavy cream)
  • sea salt & fresh ground pepper

Steep the shallot in lemon juice with 1/4 t. of salt. After 5 minutes whisk in olive oil. Then gently add cream. Add fresh ground pepper and more salt to taste. I found this delightful sauce recipe in Suzanne Goin’s fabulous cookbook, Sunday Suppers At Lucques and her salad was the inspiration for the one we tested here. Of course, she uses heavy cream. I found the non-dairy, no-cholesterol (vegan) mimiccream to work quite well!

A while back, after a great dinner at at AOC, I purchased Suzanne Goin’s cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques in which she penned, “Don’t wait til Sunday.” In addition to her snappy original recipes, she tells many charming personal stories. Her cooking style is pure and fresh and the book is an inspiration to cook local, organic, seasonal dishes using all the senses.

Assemble the Salad

  • Belgian endive leaves
  • Mixed baby lettuces
  • Italian parsley
  • Thinly-sliced Meyer lemon wheels, sans seeds
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Kalamata olives, pitted, sliced lengthwise
  • Johnny Jump-ups
  • Shelled fava beans

Place 5 Belgian endive leaves on the plate in a star configuration. Toss mixed baby lettuces and chopped fresh parsley with Meyer lemon cream. Place a mound of the lettuces in the center of the plate. Arrange lemon slices between endive spears. Drizzle more Meyer lemon cream over the lemon wheels and endive. Top with olives, pine nuts, fava beans, and lastly a few pretty flowers.

If you live in the Los Angeles area, please let us know if you are interested in attending one of our Sunken City Supper Club events!

As always, only serve home-grown plants and flowers that are sure to be edible.

Sunken City Supper Club Posts:

The Winter White Dinner

The Best of Fall Dinner

49 thoughts on “Dreamy Meyer Lemon Salad with Edible Violas”

  1. Sure wish I could be there. This salad had me at Meyer lemons – and I’m sure this is a very small indication of how awesome the rest of the meal will be. Good luck on your next SCSC event, LL….and remember to have lots of fun (and a little wine) while doing it.

  2. You have to know I covet your lemon trees. Thought about buying one and bringing it in every winter. I am searching for miniccream all over – no luck thus far. This salad is sunlit and welcoming. Filled with flavor and easy on the eyes. Makes me want to pull the violas from my garden.

  3. This has got to be one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever seen. I love the blend of lemons and violets. Maybe because I just prepped and cooked fava beans for lunch this afternoon, I just loved reading this!

  4. I’m looking at violas in a diffferent way now! That “cream” I will definitely check out next time at WF’s. Your salad is so creative, love all the components. You know I’d be there at your supper club.

  5. This is so beautiful! I’ve been thinking about edible flowers as garnish for a tropical-themed bridal shower I am hosting this summer. I wonder if it’s too late for me to plant some of my own. hmm…

  6. I’ll certainly keep that in mind should I ever be fortunate to be in the area! 🙂 The edible flowers just give it such an elegant touch – amazing!

  7. This looks beautiful, I especially like the photo of the fava beans in the pod. 🙂 And meyer lemons… to die for. I live down in San Diego but a drive up to LA is always fun… Can you let me know when you have your next event? I am always up for getting together with foodies!

  8. This looks so pretty, I can only imagine how delicious this tastes too!
    And for an elegant dinner party.. this would definitely be a conversation piece!

  9. Your salad is gorgeous, but your lemon cream sauce really caught my eye. I will try it this weekend. It would be so wonderful to have something like this that really works well in recipes. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

  10. Delicious-looking salad, which I would have loved to eat this afternoon. 😉

    That’s a wonderful photo of the lemon tree.


  11. what a beautiful salad…..your meyer lemon dressing sounds so good!!! I can’t imagine how nice it is to have your own lemon tree…..I remember staying in a villa in Sorrento, and one of the reasons I would want to live in Sorrento were the gorgeous lemons they produced there….sigh nothing beats a fresh lemon.
    thanks so much for sharing your wonderful experience!

  12. I so miss having a garden- the kids and I grew our own edible flowers 20 years ago, but I was not as into dressings, and this sounds great! Jealous on the meyer lemon tree!

  13. what a beautiful salad, I love fava beans, great post filled with beautiful pics, I have tried that olive oil and was very pleased with the flavor..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.