LAWRENCE MURPHY: Leaf, flower, root: the border’s most versatile flower

Courgette, tomato and nasturtium salad
Courgette, tomato and nasturtium salad
Members of Havant Rotary Club Jenny Edgell,Vicki King and Mike Coombe at last year's event

Hungry? The Emsworth British Food Fortnight will return tomorrow

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Many of you gardeners out there will be fully aware that the nasturtium plant is a dream to grow as it doesn’t really need looking after once it’s established.

The bright orange and red flowers brighten your borders and the snails don’t seem to be interested in the round foliage.

To me they are more than just an easy plant to grow because they also produce an edible flower that has a fantastic peppery taste that gives many dishes a great punch.

However, this is not all. For the flowers are not the only edible part of this plant – the small leaves are just as peppery. If you add them to salads they make a great alternative to rocket.

And if you are patient you can also collect the seed pods and pickle them making a lovely ‘caper’.

And there’s more.

Last year I managed to get hold of the nasturtium root which had the texture of water chestnuts but with a bit of a kick.

These I pickled and served with seared chilled salmon and fennel seeds.

It’s amazing that one little plant can produce so many different parts that are tasty to eat.

If you haven’t got any growing in your garden ask some friends or family.

I’m sure you’ll be able to get some leaves for this mouthwatering pesto to dress a salad of courgette and baby plum tomatoes.

Nasturtium leaf pesto

Ingredients

40g nasturtium leaves

Tablespoon ground almonds

1 clove garlic

50ml olive oil

Good pinch sea salt

Two small courgettes

Sixteen vine baby plum tomatoes

One onion sliced in rounds

60ml balsamic vinegar

25g brown sugar

Method

1. Heat the balsamic vinegar and the brown sugar in a saucepan for two minutes.

2. Add the sliced onion and cook for three minutes.

3. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.

4. Keep back a few nasturtium leaves for garnish. Rroughly chop the rest and put into a liquidiser.

5. Finely chop the garlic and add to the chopped nasturtium leaf.

6. Now add the oil, ground almonds and salt.

7. Liquidise until you get a fine paste.

8. Slice the courgette thinly long ways and sprinkle with a little salt. Leave for five minutes.

9. Slice the tomatoes in half and mix with the courgettes.

10. Stir in the pesto and arrange on plates.

11. Drain the onions, add to the salad and add the nasturtium leaves you saved.

- Lawrence Murphy’s restaurant is Fat Olives at Emsworth (fatolives.co.uk). Call 01243 377914.