Pesto is one of things that without fail is 10,000 times better made fresh that it is from a jar.. you cant beat the intensity of those fresh flavours!!! And you cant really go wrong – any combination of basel, rocket, spinach, kale, wild garlic, coriander.. plus olive oil, lemon, garlic, nuts and you’re winning! You could add some nutritional yeast flakes for a dairy free cheesy taste.
So 3 things happened that brought me to making a pesto with nasturtium leafs.
- Firstly nasturtiums spread like wildfire through my garden, I planted 3 small seedling in the spring and no joke, I have a grown a carpet!
- Then, my old school cook (and much appreciated follower of my Facebook page) Grandma Benson, told me that you can eat the leaf’s of Nasturtiums! Pretty obvious really, but I never thought of it before, so I was excited to try making something tasty with them.
- And thennnn.. I needed to come up with a simple recipe from my garden to prepare for a shoot I was asked to do, for a series coming up on health and fitness in Bristol (more on that exciting stuff soon!!!) and seeing as I had an overgrown courgette just begging to be picked and spiralized, zoodles (zucchini noodles) with nasturtium pesto seemed like the obvious Solution!
I love the feeling of creativity and resourcefulness that comes with making something out of nothing. You know, when your ‘fridge scraps supper’ turns out to be the best thing you ate all week? I feel the same about using the whole plant, the bits that often get discarded, like carrot and beetroot tops or broccoli stalks…! Well, discovering there is an abundance of something edible in my garden that I didn’t know about and turing it into something delicious gives me the same satisfaction, I adore those small simple pleasures that come with gardening and growing things.
Clearly this small handful of leaf’s didn’t make a dent in my nasturtium carpet, I could jar up a years worth of pesto before that happened, but I’m not complaining, I love their sunny red, orange and yellow faces that greet me when I step outside and strangely my other vegetables don’t seem to mind being practically strangled.
Pesto is obviously the perfect easy pasta sauce but also goes beautifully with fish or chicken, or stuffed into raw mushroom cups – YUM! Or, thinned down with olive oil as a salad dressing. Nasturtiums have a distinctively fragrant, peppery taste, the more leaf’s you add the more peppery it will be, so proceed with caution.
Like I said you cant really go wrong, use my measures as a starting point and follow your own inspiration!
- 1/3 cup olive oil plus a glut or two if you prefer a runnier pesto.
- 1 large handful of basil leaves plus stalks (about 60g)
- 6 -8 leaves of nasturtiums, more if you lie it
- 1/2 an avocado
- 2 or 3 cloves of garlic depending on how strong you like it!
- juice from 1/2 a large lemon
- A small handful of almonds (about 50g)
- Good quality salt to taste
Add all of the ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until you reach a consistency that your happy with, I like it pretty smooth with just a a bit of crunch from the almonds.
And heres a little sneak peak for you… I might be on ‘telly guys!!! Gaaah. Help!
Wishing you a beautiful day,