Nasturtiums and Pesto

One day my son brought home a seedling from his preschool. ‘I planted it!’, he said with pride. ‘We need to water it, so it grows big and strong!’ Ahem. I am bad at watering plants, like really bad. Many green things died in my care. It also says a lot about me as a gardener that I have not, at that time, recognised the plant as nasturtium. I had to ask Lex’s teacher. But I could not let my son down, so it lived on our kitchen window sill for a while, until Lex and me finally planted it in our herb garden.

But then,  as my interest in gardening grew, I learnt that not only nasturtiums are the easiest plants to grow from seed, making it a quick win for somebody whose fingers are the opposite of green (what colour would that be?) but they are also edible. And not only the pretty flowers, but the leaves too! They have a fresh, lemon-y, peppery flavour, and remind me of the earthy taste of rocket, my favourite salad leave. You can even munch on the stalks, if you are into that kind of thing. So me and the kids planted a lot of them, everywhere. One has to start somewhere.

Anyhow, one thing led to another and when it came to making pesto, one of our weekly staples,  it was only fitting that I used nasturtium leaves as the base. I started making my own pesto a few years back, and it was one of my first transitions towards making my own staple food. I remember buying a tub of homemade pesto at the Farmers’ Market, and realising that all these years I have been duped into buying the canned version at the grocery store. What a difference! Bright green, rich and creamy, we liked it a lot. In our pasta, couscous, salad, scrambled eggs, toast, ice cream (just kidding). Anyway, you get the idea. The farmers’ market version came with a hefty price tag, so I learnt to make my own and thus my journey of making pesto out of anything green and leafy begun.

So back to the story. I grabbed a bunch of nasturtium leaves, then added some basil and parsley for extra aroma. I minced a handful of cashews, using their creamy sweetness to balance out the sharpish flavour of nasturtiums. Then I mixed in the crushed garlic, lemon juice, parmesan, and voila!

Food photography. Nasturtium pesto decorated with nasturtium flowers.

Later, we enjoyed a light supper of pasta and pesto with some sweet and smoky slow roasted tomatoes, shaved parmesan, and of course, nasturtium petals.

Food photography. Penne pasta with nasturtium pesto and slow roasted tomatoes.

Happy Monday Everyone!



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