Nasturtium: The Most Delicious and Versatile Flower in Your Garden
We know you’ve seen it. Low growing, colorful flowers that like to climb and spread their bright joy. Nasturtium is a common flower amongst the gardens of the Northwest and it’s often chosen for its ease, bounty, and brilliance. Planted in a sunny spot with good drainage, it takes off climbing, spreading, and reseeding itself.
While many gardeners know it for it’s warm hues, some may be surprised to learn that Nasturtium is also entirely edible -- that’s right, the whole plant -- and can become a base for a plethora of culinary projects. Here are some of our favorite ways to make use of this beautifully delicious plant:
EDIBLE FLOWER GARNISH
Nasturtium blooms have a slight kick of spice to them but still remain mild, with a hint of a floral taste as well. These vibrant flowers make an ideal edible garnish for salads, charcuterie boards, and vegetable sides. Served atop your meal, they easily add a beautiful spot of color and a bit of fanciness.
100 small or 50 large Nasturtium leaves, washed
¼ cup pine nuts (cashews, pistachios, or any favorite nut will also work)
½ cup olive oil
½ parmesan cheese or vegan replacement broken into small chunks
Hearty pinch of salt, more to taste
Small pinch of pepper
Small pinch of red pepper (optional)
- Toast the pine nuts by placing them in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring constantly until just beginning to take on a golden color and becoming fragrant. Remove from heat quickly so as not to let them burn.
- Place ⅓ to ½ of leaves in a food processor and blend until leaves are finely chopped, adding more in batches until all leaves are processed together.
- Add nuts, cheese, and ¼ cup of olive oil and blend thoroughly with leaves.
- While blending, add the rest of the oil slowly to emulsify until desired consistency is reached.
- Taste and add more salt or pepper as necessary or stir-in red pepper flakes, if desired.
We love to spread this pesto as a base for avocado toast or add it to fresh pasta for dinner or scrambled eggs in the morning.
Skip the expensive jars of capers in the store and make your own instead with Nasturtium seeds! These are excellent with a picatta, on top of a bagel, or served with cheese and crackers.
1 cup green Nasturtium seeds, washed and dried
1 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 whole garlic cloves
6 peppercorn, crushed coarsely
Optional: fresh herbs such as bay leaf, thyme, or rosemary
- Thoroughly wash and dry a pint canning jar, lid, and ring.
- Place seeds, garlic cloves, and optional herbs in the jar.
- Combine vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Pour the mixture over the seeds in the jar and loosely place the lid on top.
- Allow to cool before sealing and refrigerating, waiting at least six weeks before consumption so that the seeds can fully brine.
VIBRANT INFUSED VINEGAR
Pick a handful of blossoms early in the morning or later in the evening once they have been out of full sun for an hour or two. Place them in a pint jar and then cover with white wine vinegar until it reaches the bottom of the band mark. Seal up the jar and place it in a dark cabinet to allow it to infuse for 1-3 weeks. The vinegar will soon take on a bright and rich color, like the flowers, and makes a beautiful gift. Strain the flowers out and put it in an easily sealed bottle before use. We love tossing a splash into a salad with high quality olive oil or drizzling it over roasted veggies before serving.
AND AS FOR THE REST OF THE PLANT…
Finely chop up the stem and top your baked potato as you would with chives or green onion, or fold into an omelette or a spread of butter!
Have you ever eaten a Nasturtium flower or any other Nasturtium creations? We would love to hear all about your favorite edible flower experiments!