Nasturtiums. Yes, it does seem a little wrong to admire their beauty then chow them down but what can you do? I also admire their multi-purpose abilities. They self seed, are ridiculously easy to grow, look after themselves, are high in vitamin C, pests don’t eat them and they keep nasty bugs away from other plants. If only people could be more like nasturtiums. As you know, I want to get the most out of my garden with the least amount of work so these are the pick of the bunch. All they need is full sun with moist, well drained soil (Spring and Autumn are good times to plant). I have been growing a jewel mix with pretty yellow, orange and red flowers. Just remember to trim them back if you don’t want total garden domination. Half the time I just let them grow through everything because it looks cool.
And I’ve gone and saved the best for last…you can use every part of the nasturtium plant; the seeds, leaves and flowers! I mainly use the flowers to decorate cakes and eat in salads with the leaves. The leaves and flowers taste pretty similar (and to how they smell) with a peppery, sweet flavour so you can substitute them for rocket or watercress. Either can be used to flavour butter or cream cheese or put a handful of flowers in white wine vinegar (for a few days) and reap the reward of peppery vinegar. I have heard nasturtiums seeds can be used as a replacement for capers (someone obviously worked this one out) but I haven’t tried it yet. As I often make aioli, I’m adding some nasturtium leaves at the end to give it a peppery hit that will go nicely with my polenta chips (or anything else really). Very easy as usual.
1 very fresh organic egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup sunflower oil
2 teaspoons of finely chopped nasturtium leaves
good quality salt
You can use a food processor or give yourself a work out and use a whisk (I tend to use my food processor). Whiz the egg, lemon juice and garlic until well combined then add the oil very slowly while the motor is running (or whisking) to emulsify. Process until it thickens and becomes beautiful and creamy. Add salt to taste along the way. Stir in the nasturtium leaves at the end and give it a bit of time in the fridge so the flavours can get friendly :: Jem x