Meatless Monday with Nasturtiums in Your Kitchen

Aug 2012

I’ve always thought flowers look beautiful in salads, but must admit that i’ve never actually purchased them for a meal. When I came across these organic beauties at a local farmers market, I decided they’d have to be incorporated into the evening’s meal.

I delighted in having everyone taste them when I got home. After some coaxing, they brought a smile to the face of all who indulged. Nasturtiums have a peppery bite and pop in your mouth for an unexpected surprise the first time you try them.

I’ve grown Nasturtiums in the garden, but it never crossed my mind to eat them. Now, i think they could become one of my favorite flowers! They are easy to grow, I now know of their versatility and flavor, and of course their beauty as an edging might just put them at the top of the list next year. These wonders require very little attention to thrive in your garden. Just give them some soil, water and room to grow and they’ll be happy little campers. Both nasturtium flowers and leaves are edible as long as you don’t use pesticides. They give a peppery punch similar to watercress in salads, and the flowers add a hit of color and flavor. I’ve even discovered that Nasturtium seeds are edible as well when they are young and green and have been likened to capers when pickled. They even offer their fare share of Vitamin C.


We made a simple salad of sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, sliced red onion, and a few daps of a pesto sauce we had on hand. A little EVOO, dash of balsamic and salt and pepper. Topped with some chopped basil, it made for some pretty fine eating!

The next night we used the remaining flowers with some arugula and grated Parmesan cheese. Again, delicious, and packed with a peppery punch when combined with the greens. Like a party in your mouth!

Now that I’ve got you ready to give them a try-a quick Internet search revealed all kinds of suggestions. We’ll all be planting seeds come next spring! Aside from beautifying your garden, you can cut many varieties for use in fresh floral arrangements.

Stuffed Nasturtium Flowers
Mix 8 ounces softened cream cheese with 2 Tablespoons finely minced chives or other herbs of your choice. Stuff the mixture into nasturtium flowers and place on a tray that has been lined with nasturtium leaves. Serve at room temperature.

Nasturtium Vinegar
1 cup nasturtium leaves, flowers, and buds
1 pint champagne or white wine vinegar

Place the ingredients in a clean clear glass jar or bottle. Tightly seal. Let sit for at least 3 weeks before using. Place a new nasturtium in the finished bottle for decoration, but you should make sure the vinegar always covers the flowers or they will mold. Makes 1 pint vinegar to use in salads, sauces and flavoring in other dishes.

Nasturtium Lemon Butter
This lovely butter has a mild lemon/pepper flavor and a colorful appearance. It is wonderful on fish, chicken and vegetables. This is also great on those small party breads, pumpernickel especially.

1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
1-2 teaspoons grated lemon peel (according to taste)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons finely chopped nasturtium blossoms

Mix all of the ingredients well until smooth and well blended. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve. Makes 3/4 cup flavored butter.

Pickled Nasturtium Seeds
Use green nasturtium seeds, and in picking retain a short length of stem on each. Lay the seeds in cold salted water for two days (two tablespoons salt to one quart water), then place them in cold water for another day. Drain well and place the seeds in a glass jar, cover with vinegar heated to the boiling point, and close the jar tightly. In a few days the seeds will be ready to use. They are an excellent substitute for capers

Who knew a basket in the farmer’s market would provide such an eye opening experience. I’d love to hear any favorite ways you have to incorporate edible flowers into your meals.