Every year when the rainy season arrives in the Cape, my garden is flooded with beautiful nasturtiums or kappertjies. I remember sucking on the flowers as a child to get the sweet nectar out, and I absolutely love capers. But I never knew that the leaves held so much goodness until my sister pointed out that they are edible! Nasturtium is a natural medicine used to treat UTI’s and lung afflictions like a cough and bronchitis. And as it turns out, the leaves also make a beautiful peppery pesto! I have always been reluctant to make pesto because I thought that you HAVE to put pine kernels in. As much as I enjoy pine kernels, I just can’t justify R1120/kg. But then I realised that any nuttiness could work, and I always have almond flour in the house. So here is my version of nasturtium pesto, and I can HIGHLY recommend it!
Here’s what you need to make Nasturtium Pesto
- 2 cups of nasturtium leaves (just shove them loosely into a cup to get the quantity)
- 1/2 cup of chopped-up stems
- a handful of flat-leaf parsley (about 10g)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 cup of grapeseed oil*
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- rind and juice of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
* I have recently discovered grapeseed oil, and much prefer the milder taste of it to stronger olive oil.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil, and quickly blanch the leaves by cooking them for 10 seconds. Then remove them and place the leaves into a bowl filled with ice water. This softens the leaves. Once they’re cooled, you can drain the leaves.
Next, put the leaves, parsley, oil, and garlic into a blender and blend until smooth.
Use a fork to mix in the parmesan, stems, lemon juice, and lemon rind. Season to taste, and serve!
Pesto is such a versatile condiment that can be used to flavour pasta dishes, as a rub on meat and as an accompaniment to cheese. I rubbed the leftover pesto on a chicken before grilling it in the oven and was amazing! Why not try our nasturtium pesto this weekend?!
This recipe was loosely based on Martha Stewart’s nasturtium pesto recipe. For the original, click here!