Nasturtiums, not just a weed.
For me as a grower and a professional chef, an edible landscape is highly important to my creative menu development. Having access to a plant that produces more than one type of edible part is a huge bonus in the kitchen. And as a working chef this is even more important when operating a seasonally focused farm-to-fork restaurant relying on locally farmed and grown edible commodities. The nasturtium happens to cover all these needs, giving up many parts over the different seasons.
Originating from northwestern South America, there are more than a hundred varieties available.
The nasturtium plants were not valued as food until taken to the Orient where the petals and buds were eaten and used to make tea. The leaves and petals are extremely nutritious — they are bursting with vitamin C and iron, and the flowers and buds are spicy and mustard like. The buds and seeds can be salt-cured and used as a caper alternative. As a green it works well with my overall cooking style as I tend not to use bitter flavors, so the spiciness is a natural fit.
Culinary and gastronomic uses are too numerous to list, but here goes a few utilized in my everyday kitchen: fresh in salads, made into pesto, large leaves used to make Greek dolmas, in soup, as a garnish on everything like a fancy chef does, pickled seed pods, pickled flower buds, fermented leaves, kimchi, and flowers and leaves fried tempura style. And this is just to name a few. As you can see there are plenty of uses for this piquant beauty.
Herbaly speaking, the health benefits are numerous including being a natural antibiotic, it promotes new blood cell formation, is a very high source of vitamin C, and is very good for the skin. Other than seeing every 5-star chef in the world adorn their plates with the dime-sized nasturtium leaves, we don't see it much outside of the garden. I particularly enjoy its piquant attitude, versatility, and multiple edible parts given up over several months. This nasturtium + fresh cannabis leaf pesto recipe utilizes not only the leaves but the flowers to make this semi-spicy pesto with tons of culinary versatility.
Nasturtium + Fresh Cannabis Leaf Pesto
- food processor
- cutting board
- chef's knife
- 3 cups nasturtium leaves
- 1 cup nasturtium flowers
- 1 cup fresh cannabis fan leaves
- 1 cup organic basil leaves
- 1 1/2-2 cups extra virgin olive oil (depending on overall desired consistency)
- 1 bottle cannabis CBD companion (100mg CBD + 20mg THC per bottle)
- 6-8 fresh organic garlic cloves (peeled, crushed)
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
- 1 cup toasted pistachios
- 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan
- 1 tbsp sea salt flakes
- 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- Wash cannabis and nasturtium leaves well. Dry and rough chop both.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add nasturtium leaves, cannabis leaves, nasturtium flowers, basil leaves, nuts, salt and pepper, cheese, garlic, and CBD companion. Process until mixed well.
- With the machine still running add the olive oil in a stream until the mixture reaches your desired consistency (I make mine a tad bit thinner than normal).
- Store covered in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Keeps for months if the top is covered with a layer of olive oil.