Nasturtiums are native to Peru and, according to Jesuit missionaries, were appreciated by the Incas both as a salad vegetable and a medicinal herb. Their Latinate name translates as “nose-twister” in reference to their sharp, horseradishy taste when eaten raw. Both nasturtium leaves and flowers contain high amounts of vitamins A and C, as well as the distinctive mustard oils which provide them their unique flavor. All they really need to flourish in your yard or garden is sun, sufficient water, and good drainage. With modest attention they’ll be blooming contentedly from late spring through early fall.
4 cups packed nasturtium leaves
2 cups packed nasturtium flowers
1 1/2 cups olive oil
5 cloves garlic
1 to 1 1/2 cups walnuts
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
Pick a basket full of fresh, healthy Nasturtium leaves and flowers without any blemishes. If your plants aren’t blooming yet, using just the leaves is fine. Barely introduce the Nasturtium leaves to boiling water, say, 10 seconds, drain them, and transfer to ice-water for a moment, drain again and set aside.
To make the pesto just blend the leaves and flowers with the other ingredients above.
You can also pickle Nasturtium pods in vinegar and salt in order to prepare piquant “Nasturtium Capers” in order to enliven and enradish your next potato salad.-Ed.