This year, I'm growing a few Nasturtium seeds that I saved from last year. Problem is, my labeling system needs to be reorganized. I'm not sure of their color or variety. I'm really hoping they're from this trailing variety. Not that I remember its name, but it sure would look pretty in that new makeshift planter I snatched at a yard sale this weekend. (in between raindrops and tornado warnings that is)
Okay, so you are either thinking, what the heck is she talking about? OR, "unlike Mr. Brown Thumb, my thumb is really brown. That's just it though, Nasturtiums are so easy to grow. They are one of the best flowers used for introducing children to gardening. My grandson, Noah planted his first Nasturtium seeds a few years back. After I told him how little care they needed, he chose to sow them in a rotted out tree stump. Yes, they grew! Nasturtium seeds are large, (easy handling for little hands) they germinate quickly, and with the exception of "damp feet," the new seedlings aren't at all fussy. As a matter of fact, they are quite adaptable. If you want lots of leaves and few flowers, plant the seeds in a shady area. (good idea if you plan on lots of Nasturtium salads:) If you plant them in poor soil in a sunny location, you will get lots and lots of tasty flowers for stuffing, floating or garnishing but we'll get to that as we go along.
Why all this fuss about Nasturtium? Let's put it this way, they are the flower that just keeps giving and giving. Not only is it a polite guest in the home or garden, Nasturtiums are a ray of sunshine in the kitchen. Just look at this pasta dish prepared with Nasturtium Butter.
"The windowpane effect is achieved by sealing parsley leaves between two sheets of fresh pasta rolled so thinly that they are nearly translucent. In place of the parsley, try also making the window panes with other decorative, pleasant tasting fresh herbs such as small basil leaves or little sprigs of chervil or dill. As shown in the photograph, edible violas and nasturtiums provide a clorful garnish. You might also want to try sealing some of their petals in between the sheets of pasta. Other edible flowers you can use include more of the yellow to bright orange to orange-red nasturtiums used in the sauce; orange to deep violet pansies; and bright purple borage blossoms..."The recipe suggests using egg pasta which is on a different page in the book. Although this recipe for egg pasta isn't exact, it does come from Williams-Sonoma Cooking At Home by Kristine Kidd and Chuck Williams. Of course, we can't forget about the delicately delicious nasturtium butter. You'll need 4 tablespoons. It too is on a different page so I've included the recipe below. If you would like detailed instructions, head on over to Food Wishes where not only will you find a recipe, but also a video.
1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
40 nasturtium flowers, stemmed, and chopped (I'm sorry I can only give you a guesstimate on how many plants that might be. I'd say at least 10 organically grown nasturtium plants; or more:)
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley
2 teaspoons minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Butter made be blended up to 1 day in advance in the refrigerator or up to one month before use in the freezer.
The main alley of Monet’s garden at Giverny is invaded by nasturtiums. Monet planted them this way, but originally, it was not on purpose. Monet wanted to soften the straight lines of his alley by an edge of small flowers, and he planted what he thought were dwarf nasturtiums. They began ramble along eventually creeping though and over the gravel. Monet liked this effect so much that he repeated it intentionally every year. (source)
Your guests will love the novelty of edible pickled flowers, served up as a garnish or an antipasto platter.
4 cups water
1 tbs. plus 1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
1 ounce nasturtium (about 20 flowers)
1-1/3 cups distilled white vinegar
Combine the water and salt in a sterilized 1-quart Mason jar or glass clamp jar, stirring to dissolve the salt.
Add the flowers and seal securely.
Set aside in a cool, dark place for 2 days.
Drain and transfer the flowers carefully to a sterilized 1-pint Mason or clamp jar.
Slowly add the vinegar and seal. (The jar will be less than full)
Set the jar aside for 3 days.
The pickled flowers have a shelf life of about 6 months.
How patient are you? Stuff the blossoms! A simple egg salad is brought to life nestled inside that itty bittty cup. If you followed that link, you will be pleasantly surprised. No egg salad in that work of art. I was at one website where it was suggested to stuff the vibrant flowers with guacamole, Imagine how pretty that must look. I will be trying it!!!
Hummingbirds love nasturtiums. You too can enjoy their delicious nectar. Make vinegar. It's easy, really. Place about 5 nasturtium flowers in a one-cup jar and cover with hot (not boiling) white vinegar. If you like, add a sprig or two of fresh dill. Cover the jar and let the blossoms steep at room temperature for about 4 or 5 weeks. You can use it unstrained, or strained in salad dressing, marinades or added to sauces for a peppery flavor. Personally, I sometimes use rice vinegar and a clove of garlic. I also strain the spent flowers and replace them with fresh blooms. Great for gift giving!!!
2-1/4 pounds ripe Italian plum tomatoes
1 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin seed
1 clove garlic, very finely minced
1 small onion, minced
1 cup loosely packed nasturtium leaves, plus 4 nasturtium flowers.
Prepare the grill or preheat broiler.
In a large bowl, toss the whole tomatoes with olive oil to prevent them from singering on the grill. Grill about 5 inches from heat source, turning frequently, until tomatoes are roasted and tender, about 5 minutes. They'll pop and spit while grilling so be careful. As the tomatoes are done, return them to the bowl.
Toast the cumin seed in a dry nonstick pan over high heat until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. The seeds pop and jump around while toasting, so pay attention.
Tip the roasted tomatoes into a processor or blender along with the roasted cumin, garlic, onion, and nasturtium leaves. Whiz until smooth. Serve warm at room temperature, or very slightly chilled, garnished with the nasturtium flowers.
1. Finding Cinderella in a Bleeding Heart
Friday, May 27, 2011