If it’s free, edible or can be foraged, you can bet I’ll be all over it! Not only do I hate any form of food waste in the kitchen but nothing quite beats the satisfaction of finding new & wonderful uses for things around the garden (particularly if you get to eat it!).
Hidden between by flower beds & veg patches this year are several little burst of oranges & yellow, with large, round, olive green leaves sprawling & climbing in between anything & everything. These are my nasturtiums & given the chance, they’ll quickly get out of hand as they love space to grow.
These climbing or trailing little beauties are cheerful, really quick & easy to grow. You can plant them almost anywhere with sunlight & they’ll keep flowering all summer right through to the autumn, giving you plenty of foliage & flowers to eat!
Many gardeners like to use nasturtiums as a companion plant to their veg patches as they attract garden pests, giving them a much more appetising feast than your veggies (a top tip for anyone growing brassicas). However, don’t let the bugs & slugs have all the fun, nasturtiums are completely edible & have a beautiful peppery flavour.
Not just your average edible garden flower, though the whole nasturtium plant is entirely edible (you get good back for your buck). The best way to keep them in check is to give them a good pruning every so often but keeping all that you trim away, flowers, leaves & all.
With a taste quite similar to a punchy rocket, the leaves are a great addition to a salad or chopped & used as a garnish whilst the bright hooked little flowers look very impressive sat on top of a cake. Unlike most edible plants form the garden though, I’m far more interested in the leaves taking centre stage than it’s beautiful blooms.
The leaves can be used much like any other edible foliage & turned into a wonderfully bright, fresh, peppery pesto. I’d say this packs a bit more of a punch than your average pesto, it’s bursting with fresh flavours. I never use any fancy cheeses or nuts when it comes to pesto because you can get just a good a flavour using cheaper alternatives so this is cheap & simple to make. I can keep enjoying my nasturtium leaves all summer long too, tossed though pasta or gnocchi, spread liberally in a sandwich or even just as a dip.
- 100g nasturtium leaves
- 50g strong cheddar cheese, chopped
- 50g skinned almonds
- 1 garlic clove
- 100ml olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Pinch of salt & pepper to taste
- Wash the nasturtium leaves & gently pat dry before use
- Place the leaves, almonds, garlic & cheddar cheese into the bowl of a food processor
- Blitz together until everything is roughly chopped
- Pour in the olive oil & lemon juice before blitzing to either a smooth or chunky paste, depending on your preference
- Taste the pesto & season as desired
- Transfer the pesto to a clean sterilised jar, or use straight away