Call me old-fashioned, but I always thought flowers were for vases – not plates.
Oh, sure, I read the articles showing a cheerful chef tossing a nasturtium blossom on a pile of lettuce. Surely a tasteless bid for attention, I sniffed.
A recent web search for organic pest riddance has given me a new taste for ripe nasturtium blossoms, leaves and seed pods.
Gardeners have long loved nasturtiums as companion plants to keep insects off of collards, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, fruit trees and radishes. Nasturtiums themselves are as edible as the vegetables and fruits they protect.
The flavors are not dramatic. Blossoms, tossed whole or torn into salads, taste like mild radishes. Sautéed nasturtium leaves processed into a cold vichyssoise are peppery. Bined or pickled seedpods make a poor gourmet’s capers.
Here is one of my favorite recipes: nasturtium butter. The petals give the butter a wonderful gold color. This is excellent on freshly steamed vegetables or fish.
Nasturtium Butter (Adapted from Brenda Hyde’s Old Fashioned Living)
1 pound butter, softened
1 quart nasturtium blossoms, well washed and dried
1 clove of garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
In the bowl of a food processor, put in the butter, nasturtiums, lemon juice and garlic. Process until completely well mixed. (Depending on your wishes, you can process all the ingredients — except the nasturtium blossoms — well, and then toss the blossoms in and pulse briefly. This makes the blossoms more obvious in the butter.)
Scrape into a bowl that contrasts well with the golden color of the nasturtium butter. Stick several nasturtium blossoms in the center of the butter and chill. This has a wonderful color and a festive presentation. It’s best used quickly. Over time, the water from the flowers tends to sweat out.