Basil Nasturtium Pesto

This pesto tastes so good that I briefly considered bottling and selling it. Then, I realized I would probably eat all the supply and have nothing left to sell. I whipped this up this morning, after my kindergartner helped me gather the nasturtium flowers and leaves. Once made, I had to tear him away from the kitchen, as he was eating the pesto by the spoonfuls, and I was afraid he’d be late for school.

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I went a bit overboard with the nasturtiums this year, and they are growing prolifically. They are a “food” I felt like I should be doing something with them. Of course we fried them. But, there had to be something more. I searched on google, and found nasturtium pesto. Most of the recipes only used the leaves, but the flowers are so good, I threw them in too. Seriously, why stop at the leaves when you can have the whole flower? Plus, they’re pretty too, and the addition of orange and red was perfect. The result in the taste was amazing:

Here’s the recipe for nasturtium Pesto:

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4 cups packed nasturtium leaves. (OK… so, if you have less than that, just cut the recipe.)
4 cups pack nasturtium flowers
5-6 cloves of garlic (or more to your taste)
4 cups packed basil (I only had two cups, so I substituted two cups of flowers)
2 and cups olive oil. Use the good stuff… the darker the better.
2 cup walnuts or pine nuts
1 cup Parmesan cheese — but don’t add this yet!
Salt and Pepper to taste

(Feel open, and prepared, to add more of the any ingredients listed above. You’ll know if it’s too dry and needs more oil… or more nuts. Trust yourself.)

Mix all ingredients, except for the cheese. You can process this in a food processor, or chop by hand — my preferred method. Then work the salt in to your taste. The salt seems to cut the bitterness. Nasturtiums have a bite, or a kick, to them… and the walnuts and the olive oil seems to mellow that out.

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You can freeze it at this point, by stuffing the pesto into ice cube trays.  Or freeze it with my left-over soup method. But remember, leave out the cheese, as it does not freeze well. Just remember to add the cheese when you pull out this pretty pesto for your next Christmas party, and you serve it with crusty bread. Or, top it with pasta on a cold, dreary day.

Nasturtiums are loaded with vitamins. And this pesto is a great way to get all of its raw-form nutritional benefits without cooking them away. Nasturtiums are related to the Brassicacea (cabbage) family. Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) is the edible plant of this family and contains the same mustard oil (Benzyl isothiocyanate), which causes the tangy taste in the nasturtium flower. The bright colors of the flowers also contain the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin, a free radical scavenger to help prevent cancer. Those mustard oils are known to be antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial, making eating the flower a good way to build your immune system against colds, and flu.

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6 comments to “Basil Nasturtium Pesto”
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  3. I love how pesto can use any herbs (or other greens) you can get your hands on! I always use less oil and add lemon juice. I made this with basil and nasturtium leaves, but also added in a green onion, dandelion greens, and new Zealand spinach.

    Vegan tip: use nutritional yeast, a little salt, and increased garlic to replace the parmesan cheese. I’m allergic to milk, so I had to search flour a way to do it without cheese. Plus, this way you can freeze it fully prepared. It’s rare for me to freeze it, though. I put it on anything from pasta to sandwiches or burgers

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