Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Nasturtiums for Dinner

You probably have nasturtiums planted in the flower garden or in containers because of the beauty of the flowers.

It’s also possible that you have them tucked into the vegetable garden because of their reputation as a great companion plant.

Many of us forget that nasturtium is actually an herb and used by many cooks.

Use Nasturtium as Spice and Garnish

The nasturtium is sometimes called Indian Cress and is, in fact, a close cousin of true watercress. Fresh nasturtium leaves can substitute anywhere true watercress is called for. If you like watercress sandwiches, try a nasturtium leaf sandwich instead.

The leaves of the herb will add a slightly peppery taste to salads and soups. Try this great summertime cucumber salad with nasturtiums.

The flowers of the nasturtium can be used as well as the herb leaves. The bright colors of yellow, orange and red brighten a simple dish of applesauce as well as making a festive herbal butter.

Get the Kids Involved

The only part of the nasturtium that can’t be eaten is the seed, which is full of oxalic acid. But don’t let that go to waste because nasturtiums are easy to grow.

Get the kids involved in gardening by giving them a few seeds. Once they stick the herb into a pot of soil or a section of the herb garden, all they need is a bit of water and sunshine. Let the kids gather the tiny leaves and add them to their vegetable to entice them to eat them for a change.

photo under morgueFile free license

Summer Nasturtium Salad

When the nasturtium are in bloom, it must mean it’s time for herb salad. 

Pick 6 flowers, making sure you get the leaves. Wash them and remove the and set aside the leaves and flower heads to drain. Discard the stems.

In a blender, mix:
·         2 Tablespoons of wine vinegar
·         6 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
·         ½ teaspoon dry mustard
·         2 Tablespoons of chopped fresh tarragon
·         Freshly ground pepper to taste
·         Salt to taste

Peel and thinly slice 2 fresh cucumbers just before serving.

Add the smallest of the nasturtium herb leaves and the salad dressing to the cucumbers and gently toss until the cucumbers are well coated.

Add the remaining nasturtium leaves and flowers as a garnish.

Photo under morgueFile free license