The beautiful Eastern Redbud, or Cercis canadensis, blooms in our region as one of the first flowering shrubs of spring. It always blooms just before the Dogwood tree and is often referred to as the “Judas Tree”. Some say the nickname was given because Judas was quick to lead the arrest of Jesus, thus the Redbud, or Judas Tree, blooms quickly before the Dogwood does. Others say it is because Judas hung himself from a Redbud tree out of dismay at betraying his friend. God later dwarfed both trees, the Redbud and the Dogwood, so that their branches would never be strong or large enough to support a person’s weight again. Whichever the reason for the name, it has stuck and is always a reminder of the beginning of Passover and the delicacy of life and friendship.
Redbuds are not only lovely to look at but also very much edible. They have a pleasing, tart taste and pair well with sweet, fresh flavors. The following Redbud tea sandwich recipe is an original of my own and is a knock-off of traditional cucumber sandwiches with a sweet twist. The delicate, fresh flavor is perfect for spring gatherings. As summer closes in and cucumbers are coming in from the garden, try substituting other edible flowers that are in season such as violet, lilac and rose.
RedBud Blossom & Cucumber Tea Sandwiches
8 oz. whipped Cream Cheese
1 large cucumber, peeled and de-seeded – finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 Tablespoon finely chopped sweet Vidalia onion
2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Cup Redbud blossoms
Mix the first 5 ingredients together and adjust sugar to taste if desired. Gently stir in blossoms. Spread in a thin layer between 2 slices of bread and cut sandwiches into desired shapes.
*My cutter isn’t deep enough for two slices of bread, so I cut my bread first then assemble the sandwiches.
*To de-seed cucumbers, peel and cut in half, then cut in half lengthwise. Use a small spoon to easily scrape out seeds.