Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Why Nasturtium Pesto?

Why make nasturtium pesto? It sounded strange at first -- can you even eat nasturtiums? It turned out, the question we should have been asking was "why not?"

Nasturtiums grow wild year round in many parts of California, including our backyards. Every part of the plant -- the leaves, the beautiful flowers and even the seed pods -- are edible. It's perennial, meaning it doesn't die off each year. In addition, dark green nasturtium leaves and their beautiful flowers, both of which can be used in the pesto, are rich in iron, Vitamin C and contain smaller amounts of many antioxidants. Even a simple salad using its flowers and bits of leaves tastes delicious, but pesto truly elevates the pepper and floral flavors of nasturtium to a new level.

Our first attempt making nasturtium pesto had us dreaming about it at night and eating it for breakfast on cold pasta straight from the refrigerator. It has a bright green flavor, a peppery bite and a floral richness that traditional basil pesto can't match. Each taste leaves you wanting more. Our second attempt blended in a little parsley and fresh Romano cheese, heightening the flavors and making a delightful sauce suitable for many purposes. Try it on hot cheese ravioli, or as part of a summer pasta salad with sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese. Use it as a spread on crostini, to add flavor to hummus or even as a condiment for a simple turkey sandwich. Best of all, with our Nasturtium Pesto Scrambled Eggs, you can eat it for breakfast, even when you have company.

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