One of the most beautiful things about the winter garden has to be nasturtiums. We have grown to love her bright orange, yellow and even red blooms and her big, round leaves that rise up to dance in the breeze.They bring with them some winter brightness as well as the pollinating bees to the garden.
Our kids love to pick a nasturtium leaf that has a few droplets of water nestled in it’s centre and watch how it rolls around as if my magic.
Tropaeolum, commonly known as nasturtium, is a genus of roughly 80 species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants. It was named by Carl Linnaeus in his book Species Plantarum, and is the only genus in the family Tropaeolaceae.
Both the flower buds and seeds of the nasturtium plant are edible and yield a flavor and texture similar to capers. The leaves of nasturtiums are also edible and have a wild peppery flavour.
Nasturtiums are incredibly nutritious and contain high levels of vitamin C, iron, manganese, flavonoids, and beta carotene.
Even chickens love them, which is a good thing because nasturtiums are very good for them too.
Leaves of nasturtiums also contain antibiotic properties that are at their most beneficial prior to flowering.
They can be eaten to help ward off colds and flu during the winter season and their leaves can also be dried over salt then ground up to make a herbal finishing salt, ready to add to a variety of dishes.
A fresh leaf can also be chewed and applied directly as a poultice to surface wounds to prevent infection: a wild gift if you are out and about and happen to need her!
Great! We’re in!
In the Garden
We have nasturtiums growing wild around our garden that borders a vast wetland. They’re also coming up all over in our garden. We love having them as border plants as they attract and trap aphids which would otherwise munch away on our kale, cauliflower and brocolli babies. Having said this, when they pop up in the middle of the bed they can take up heaps of space and we really don’t want to invite nasturtium loving critters so close to our crops. This is when we lovingly weed them out and make use of their abundant gifts.
Medicinal Nasturtium Leaf Dressing
Yesterday we decided it was time to move a few nasturtium plants that were taking up needed space in a couple of our beds.
I took them home and made a dressing using the leaves, a grated pear, a grated zuchinni, virgin olive oil, raw apple cider vinegar, freshly squeezed lemon juice, some mixed seeds (ground hemp, sunflower, sesame, linseed and pumpkin seeds), & a sprinkling of Himalayan salt & black pepper. I also added some finely grated white cheddar, which you can omit for a vegan alternative.
Now, if you know me well you will probably also know that I usually make up recipes with a dash of this, a sprinkle of that, taste, adjust, ooooh, what about some of this and that… and so it goes. It’s bad, I know! But fear not, dressings are super simple to make if you follow the basic guideline of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil. From there you can play around with whatever else you would like to add.
This dressing can be used over salads (which you can add nasturtium flowers to!), over pasta dishes, fish dishes, in wraps or even combined with yoghurt to make a dip.
What you Need
- Nasturtium leaves (start with a few and add more as you taste and go)
- 1 small grated pear
- 1 medium grated zuchinni
- Olive oil (3 parts)
- Apple cider vinegar and lemon juice (combined as 1 part)
- Finely grated cheese (I only had white cheddar so went with that. I think a stronger hard cheese would be wonderful too)
- Mixed seeds (nuts…have fun with this – or leave out if you don’t have any)
- Himalayan Salt
- Black Pepper
What to Do
Pop everything into a food processor except the seeds and have at it. Add more oil or vinegar to reach your desired consistency. Keep tasting and adding more nasturtium leaves until you are happy with the flavour.
When you are done, stir in the seeds and transfer to a clean, airtight jar. Store in the fridge or freeze in ice cube trays for later use.
Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!
Let us know if you make it – or come up with your own nasturtium recipes.
Until next time,
Happy Nasturtium picking!
Shireen & Kathy
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