I was strolling through Mercado Viejo in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, the other morning when I came across a girl with a large pile of small, scarlet flowers. I had never seen these before, and of course, I was curious as to what they were. I stopped under her umbrella and asked what these little blooms were. She replied “flor de bótil.” She proceeded to tell me they were delicious and how to prepare them by boiling them and then mixing them with eggs. I was intrigued, and they were too beautiful to pass up, so I took 10 pesos worth.
My friend, Marta, was at the house when I returned and she explained to me that they were the flower of the beans on the milpa. Marta, knowing I love to cook, also suggested that I sauté them with onion and tomato. I knew I had some experimenting to do in the kitchen.
The next morning I woke and took the pups out for one of our morning hikes. This time I took a different route and ended up wandering through a gorgeous milpa abundant with corn, squash, and flor de bótil. There they were! The vines were growing along the side of other edible flowers and twisting their way up stalks of corn with their tiny little reg flags signaling the bees. I got excited to get home to the flowers I had and get them cooking.
When I got home, I decided to make a basic base with the flowers that I could use in a variety of dishes. This makes a super tasty side dish that you can serve with rice and beans, tamales or even put on a tortilla and make a veggie taco. Also, you can add this mixture to fried potatoes, scrambled eggs or make an omelet with some quesillo. You can make empanadas or a fried cake similar to torta de huauzontle.
Don’t be afraid to try this legume if you see it in the market. And once you notice this beautiful flower, you’ll see it everywhere; on farms, on the roadside and even in local textiles. Seeing it’s representation in local art, makes you realize how important this plant is to the region. Read more about flor de bótil.
Sautéed Flor de Botil (Scarlet Runner Bean Flowers)
- sauté pan
- 1 bunch Flor de Botil (Scarlet Runner Bean, Bean Flower) The flowers are typically sold by a large bunch that is about a large handfull of stems bunched.
- 1-2 cloves Garlic finely chopped
- 1/4 cup Onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Butter You may substitute olive oil.
Prepare the Bean Flowers:
- Rinse the flowers in water, cleaning of dirt and debris. Separate any wilted and discolored flowers. You don't need to cut the shoots, as they will shrivel and shrink as you cook them.
- Place clean flowers in a large sauté pan and add water until flowers are completely submerged and about 1/4" of water over them. Salt water very well.
- Bring to a boil and reduce heat.
- Simmer for 7-10 minutes until shoots and flowers are tender and flowers begin to darken.
- Remove from heat and strain off remaining water.
- The flowers are edible at this point and make a healthy side dish with a little salt and pepper.
To Prepare as a Seasoned Sauté:
- Return to pan with a finely diced garlic, onion and sauté with a little olive oil or butter for several minutes until onion is translucent.