If you aren’t familiar with Nasturtiums, they are a large plant that grows like a vine. They have large leaves that look like lily pads in which tiny fairies could be hiding under. Yet, when you look for the fairies all you see are bright orange, yellow and peachy-hued flowers who pop up to say hello! Nasturtiums are also fully edible and make amazing nasturtium pesto! The leaves are slightly peppery and add a fresh, green taste to your pesto!
Are Nasturtiums Hard to Grow?
Luckily, nasturtiums are the ideal plant for any newbie gardeners since they grow in abundance, and require very little effort. They actually grow too quickly and you need to trim them up every so often. Otherwise, they will dance and sprawl all throughout your garden.
They even thrive in low-quality soil conditions. Thank the heavens they are beautiful and nutrient-dense leaving you with plenty of greens to use for nasturtium pesto and green salads alike.
Over the winter, I let the Nasturtium plants run wild in my community garden plot. This means I need to clear out a place for all of the new seedlings I’ve begun to plant for spring. Luckily for us, that means we have an abundance of Nasturtium leaves and flowers to enjoy and make some pesto with!
Since the nasturtium plant is fully edible, both leaves and flowers, we can make a large batch of amazing nasturtium pesto to use in a variety of different meals.
Harvesting Nasturtium Greens
Harvesting Nasturtium Greens couldn’t be easier, especially if you grow them in your own garden. I don’t really recommend foraging for them on any nearby landscapes as they could easily be sprayed with pesticides and you don’t want those!
As mentioned above the greens and flowers are beyond easy to grow as long as you have space for the plant to grow.
Once you find your Nasturtiums all you have to do is cut the top leaf off of the stem and place it into a basket. Once you have enough for the amount of pesto you wish to make, wash the leaves thoroughly. This is always a good practice with any vegetable or green you grow yourself.
How To Make Nasturtium Pesto
The inspiration for this recipe came from a workshop that I took. About a year and a half ago, I went to an “Eat Your Weeds” workshop in San Diego, CA where we made pesto out of foraged greens such as… yep, you guessed it, Nasturtiums that grew wild on an organic farm! The workshop really opened my eyes to the edible nourishing nature that is all around us. In the pesto that we made, we added nettles, basil, chickweed, dandelion, and a few more different greens that were considered “weeds”. The pesto we made was a little bitter but was so potent and delicious. My version of this recipe lowers the bitterness and ups the flavor!
This year I am keeping the tradition of making huge batches of nasturtium pesto. Luckily, if you don’t eat it right away, it freezes very nicely and can be thawed when ready to eat!
To make my nasturtium pesto, I mix it with basil to make sure the blend isn’t too bitter. If you have other wild greens accessible to you, feel free to throw a few of them in the mix. Just make sure if you are foraging to do your research to make sure what you are foraging or harvesting is indeed edible. With Nasturtiums they are easy to identify and abundant to forage. It’s also a wonderful way to get out in nature and bring your children with you. They will be able to learn about edible plants and get inspired to create new recipes.
Once you have your greens picked, washed, and ready, you will need to get out your blender. There’s only one step after you have all of your ingredients prepped. That’s to put it all in the blender or food processor. Once you have everything in your blender, blend it until it reaches the desired consistency. For us, we like the pesto pretty creamy. We also found that hemp seeds add a little creaminess if you want to be creative and add those as well. Now all you have to do is enjoy your pesto!
Creative Ways to enjoy Nasturtium Pesto
I absolutely love the variety of uses for pesto. The possibilities are seriously endless, but below are a few of my favorites.
Make a Pesto Pasta: All you have to do is cook your favorite noodles (ours is lentil pasta) and put a few scoops of the pesto and mix well! We top ours with a little cheese (either vegan or goat cheese work great). It’s one of our staple meals.
Top Sourdough Bread: We’ve been making a TON of home made gluten-free sourdough bread and absolutely loving it. For lunch I put a little bit of pesto on top of a slice with some avocado and it was AMAZING!
Sandwich Spread: The pesto works perfectly on a sandwich. You can add it to your favorite sandwich for a little green kick.
Pizza/Flatbread: We’ve just made one of our new favorite pizzas! However, the sauce wasn’t tomato based, it was a pesto sauce. This recipe would work perfect to make your new favorite pizza or flatbread.
Dipping Sauce: You can use the nasturtium pesto as a dipping sauce for pretty much anything! I love dipping cut vegetables into a little bit of pesto.
Do you have any creative ideas to use Nasturtium pesto? If so, tag me on Instagram (@mytinylagunakitchen), I’d love to see what you come up with!