Are you a pesto-file? Always looking at different ways to make pesto? Here is one you quite possibly have not tried yet, and it is very versatile. A couple weeks ago, I taught a workshop on edible common garden flowers at Fig Earth Supply, the edible nursery in my neighborhood. And, it got me thinking of all the delightful, delicious ways we can get the most nutritional bang from our outdoor spaces. Enter nasturtium pesto!
This pesto’s uses are pretty much endless! Top it on some eggs, spread it on vine ripened tomatoes, dollop on fresh caught trout, spread it on crostini, mix it into Alfredo sauce, heck I’ll bet it would even make good ice cream if done right! My favorite, and the most nutrient dense way to enjoy it is as a simple, stand alone dip for colorful, raw vegetables, like peppers, asparagus, cucumber, and celery.
And what’s the best part about this pesto? It is, in fact, made of a leaf that would otherwise become byproduct in your garden- the edible leaves of the nasturtium flower. The main nutritional components found in nasturtium are glucosinolates, mustard oil, flavonoids, carotenoids and vitamin C.
There are a few recipes for this pesto out there, but this one is 100% vegan and raw, for added nutritional value and plant-powered nuance. So, if you feel like having some pesto, but don’t have any basil around, just run out to your back yard and grab some nasturtiums, and go to town!
vegan cashew nasturtium pesto
2 cups of nasturtium leaves (about 30 leaves of varying sizes)
About 20 nasturtium flowers
NOTE: Try to pick the stems with the leaves, and reserve them as an optional ingredient
1/2 cup raw cashews
4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly sliced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Wash and pat dry the nasturtium leaves. Check the flowers for bugs and dust and wipe impurities from the blossoms. Place the leaves, cashews, garlic, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until it breaks down and starts to blend together. Add the olive oil gradually and pulse the food processor to incorporate. Process the pesto until it reaches the consistency of pesto. This pesto will be a little more pasty than you might be used to. Add the tablespoon of water to break it down a bit, and pulse until it is smooth.
At this point, if you want it a little more peppery, you can add some of the stems. Add the a handful at a time and see how you like the taste and texture. Finally, add the nasturtium flowers, and just pulse gently until the blossoms are broken up and appear as colorful speckles in the pesto, without becoming completely pulverized into the pesto. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate for later.