wild and hardy, brave and beautiful, resilient and low maintenance, nasturtiums aren't afraid to show up unannounced and root themselves right into situations, unfolding a waterfall of delicate green leaves, followed by a cascade of bright, piquant and peppery flowers.
all parts of the nasturtium are edible :: the buds can be pickled, the flowers are a beautiful additions to salads or atop cakes (see the nasturtium petal unfunfetti cake), the stems are sweet and earthy and the leaves make fabulous faux-dolmas wrappers and this deliciously rich, green pesto.
as with all pestos, seasoning to taste is essential, and the recipe is only a suggestion. wing it, improvise, use walnuts instead of pepitas, make it vegan with nutritional yeast instead of parmesan cheese, and so on. you could also blanch the leaves before blending…an entirely different flavor would result!
- 1/3 cup pepitas
- roughly 20-30 nasturtium leaves, about 2 cups, packed
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cup olive oil (or more)
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or more)
- 3 teaspoons lemon juice (or more)
- Salt, to taste
On medium-low heat, lightly toast the pepitas in a dry pan until light brown in color. Set aside.
In a food processor, roughly chop pepitas and garlic. Add the nasturtium leaves. lemon juice and parmesan cheese, blend. Drizzle in enough olive oil to create a soft paste and season to taste with salt. Adjust with more lemon juice, cheese or oil as needed.
Spread on bread or crackers; garnish a few with nasturtium flowers. This pesto will keep well for a couple weeks in the refrigerator.