The wonderful peppery flavour of Nasturtium leaves, works really well in this simple and quick pesto recipe. This recipe could be adapted for any flavoursome leaf that you fancy. This is my Tomato bed. I know what you are thinking, you are thinking those aren't tomatoes, and you'd be right! Last years Nasturtiums have self-seeded with such willful abandon that they have totally over-shadowed my poor tomato plants. Today, I decided, was the day for the Great Nasturtium Cull.
Nasturtiums are actually fabulous plants. They are ridiculously easy to grow, and you can eat their colourful flowers, leaves and seeds. In addition to its wonderful flavor, the nasturtium plant is a rich source of vitamin C and is reputed to contain an herbal equivalent of penicillin, which helps the body fight off infection. It is also considered a great companion plant. which is why I planted my tomatoes where they had grown last year. This seemed a great plan at the time, it just never occured to me that the nasturtium could grow far quicker than the tomato plants would. Today I decided that I would have to restore the balance, and making a pesto from the resulting casulties, seemed to make the whole cull a little less painful.
With a pesto you really can use whatever ingredients you want, or indeed have to hand. I used flaked almonds as I had half a bag lurking from a recipe a couple of weeks ago, and Pecorino cheese which I bought on a whim during Italian week, at a local supermarket. Likewise, quantities are really flexible too, but for the benefit of readers I weighed what I used as I went along, to give you some idea.
130 grams washed Nasturtium leaves
90g Grated Pecorino Cheese
90g flaked Almonds - Toasted
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
150mls Olive Oil
Salt and Peper to taste
Nasturtium leaves are surprisingly fun to wash. They appear to be hydrophobic, in other words they repel water. Consequently you can pull them out of the water, give them the smallest shake, and they are dry. To make the pesto, blitz all the ingredients apart from the cheese in a blender, stir in the cheese, and adjust the seasoning to taste.
We ate this batch with chicken and pasta. It would also be great with fish, as a dip, or used as a bruschetta topping. This pesto also freezes really well.