Foraging for nasturtiums

It’s taken a couple of goes, but I finally have several healthy thriving nasturtiums in the balcony garden. These allegedly grow easily and are often a popular first plant for kids, as their seeds are large enough for little fingers to handle, they have gorgeous blooms that range from fiery red to sunshine bright yellow, and everything about them is edible.

That’s right: they are edible.

Unfortunately my nasturtiums are only little (well, my balcony garden is quite little too), so I’ve just been adding their flowers to our salads and not doing much else with them.

However I recently bought a copy of The Weed Forager’s Handbook from Scrumptious Reads (a fantastic little bookstore in Brisbane if you love culinary books), and have been taking more notice of the plants as I admire larger gardens on our daily walks around the neighbourhood.

Foraging for nasturtium

Nasturtiums are quite popular in other gardens in our area, particularly as a sidewalk trim. After a particularly wet week, many grew to very lush proportions and I decided to do a little foraging from each cluster, all the while mindful not to ruin them by over picking or trespassing into properties. I took this photo of one growing against a house fence by the sidewalk after I had foraged – you cannot even tell where I picked from!

Following the basic principles of pesto making, I washed and blended the large mixing bowl of nasturtium leaves with garlic, toasted pine nuts and generous amounts of olive oil. But if you need a recipe, You Grow Girl has one that uses pepitas, but you could use just about any nut you like with pesto.

Foraging for nasturtium

Foraging for nasturtium: nasturtium pesto

Foraging for nasturtium: nasturtium pesto

But remember I said everything about nasturtiums are edible? Even their seed pods can be eaten, albeit with a little preparation.

The previously warm weather prompted a lot of blooming, and thus the production of seed pods. Most of these in my hand are from the balcony garden and I was careful to pick only the green soft ones to pickle.

Foraging for nasturtium: nasturtium pods

Nasturtium pods

I followed these directions to make the nasturtium capers and Garden Betty explains why you should soak the pods in brine first in her own version for nasturtium capers.

Foraging for nasturtium: nasturtium pods in brine

Nasturtium pods in brine

Foraging for nasturtium

Foraging for nasturtium: nasturtium pesto and capers

Foraging for nasturtium

Wholemeal penne with nasturtium pesto, wilted spinach and homemade labneh

Of course the best part is reaping the rewards of your labours and tucking into it. Here I made a simple pasta with the nasturtium pesto using wholemeal penne, fresh spinach and my homemade labneh. It is healthy, fresh and went down a treat.

Now to await the next flowering bout and think about making nasturtium flower butter!


A monthly link-up about growing your own vegetables. Hosted by Lizzie from Strayed from the Table, Kate from Rosehips & Rhubarb and Krystie from A Fresh Legacy.  To find out more about joining in the fun click here.

The next GSC Link-Up will be on Monday 28th September 2015 and about Seeds.