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Nasturtium Pesto with Sunflower Seeds

Picking nasturtiums

There are big patches of nasturtium plants on my dog-walking route. I have learnt so much about berries, shrubs, flowers and trees on this daily walking ritual. So, it is no surprise that these weed-like beauties caught my eye. It is August. It is rainy & cold in Cape Town.

The world does not need another pesto recipe. I know. And I know that one can use just about any leaf and any nut. But these nasturtium leaves looked so fresh and enticing. With water droplets all over them. The lines on the flat lily-pad-looking leaves were so mesmerising. I had to make a plan to pick them and turn them into something special!

Picking nasturtiums

Just a warning, if you are foraging these in your neighbourhood, make sure that it is outside a dog wee zone and not directly ground level. The ones I picked were quite high up from the walking area.

These beauties are often seen as ornamental flowers in the garden, and sometimes even as a weed with how prolific it is. But it is a highly nutritious vegetable to those in the know. The leafy greens and flowers are full of pungent mustard oils, which contain antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. That means nasturtiums are a natural remedy for everything from skin infections to sinus colds. We should all be growing them in our gardens.

Nasturtium pesto leaves and orange and yellow flowers

What makes nasturtiums so special?

  • The entire plant is edible,
  • Rich in nutrients,
  • They grow absolutely anywhere with the least amount of maintenance,
  • Ornamental annuals, blooming through early summer,
  • The leaves and flowers contain high amounts of mustard oils, which give them a pungent, peppery flavor and are released when the plant is crushed or chewed. (These are the same oils found in mustard seeds, horseradish root, and wasabi.)
  • The leaves are rich in vitamin C and iron,
  • And anthocyanins in the red and orange flowers make them highly antioxidant,
  • It has the ability to improve the immune system, tackling sore throats, coughs, and colds, as well as bacterial and fungal infections,
  • Nasturtium leaves can be used on wounds to help fight infection being a strong antiseptic,
  • The seeds can be ground to a paste and painted onto fungal infections of the toe nails,
  • The pungent vapours released when eating nasturtium are also wonderful for bronchitis and other infections of the lungs.

Nasturtium pesto

What do nasturtiums taste like?

  • They have a sweet and peppery flavour (almost like that of watercress, arugula, horseradish root or even wasabi), however, slightly milder. It adds a slight earthy flavour to the pesto.

Nasturtium pesto recipe variations

We love this pesto recipe as is, but by all means, feel free to change it up! Swap in what sounds good to you or what you happen to have on hand. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Use nuts instead of seeds, like pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios etc.
  • Use a different seed, like pumpkin seeds or hemp seeds.
  • Use any greens you have on hand. Spinach, kale, basil, wild spinach, carrot tops etc.
  • You could use a mix of basil and nasturtium leaves if you want more of a traditional pesto flavour.

Nasturtium pesto pasta

Ingredients:

  • Nasturtium flowers
  • Nasturtium leaves (the smaller ones are not as peppery)
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic cloves
  • Salt and cracked black pepper

If you have a yard full of nasturtium, this is a great way to use it up. You can also freeze this to brighten up a meal in the middle of winter.

How to make nasturtium pesto

  • Pick nasturtium leaves and flowers,
  • Rinse it well under running water,
  • Pack the leaves & flowers tightly in a food processor (or blender if you don’t have),
  • Add sunflower seeds, garlic, lime, olive oil, seasoning (salt and pepper),
  • Roughly pulse or blend,
  • Pour into a jar and your pesto is done!

Nasturtium pesto pasta

How to eat nasturtium pesto

  • Add it to sandwiches,
  • Mix it into pasta,
  • Add it to pizzas,
  • Add it to a boiled potato,
  • Use it as a dip,
  • Drizzle over roasted vegetables,
  • Add a dollop to soups.

Nasturtium pesto ingredients

How to freeze nasturtium pesto

Nasturtium pesto lasts about a week in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer. Portion out your pesto into ice cube trays, freeze until solid, then transfer to an airtight container. Alternatively, you can put it into a freezer bag, spread it thinly, squeeze out all the air, and freeze flat. Then you can break off and thaw the amount you need.

 

AuthorGypsyCategory, DifficultyBeginner

These freshly foraged nasturtium flowers and leaves makes for an exquisite pesto. This pesto is made without nuts. We used sunflower seeds to add a little crunch and creaminess to the pesto. Sunflower seeds are packed with nutrients. So this gives our pesto an extra health kick!

Nasturtium Pesto with Orange Flower

Prep Time10 minsTotal Time10 mins

 2 cups Nasturtium leaves (40 - 50 leaves)
 1 cup Nasturtium flowers
 1 cup Sunflower seeds
 ¾ cup Olive oil
 5 Garlic cloves
 1 tsp Salt
 1 tsp Cracked black pepper

1

Pick fresh nasturtium leaves and flowers. Preferably in the early morning. The smaller the leaves, the less kick and bitter the leaves will be.

Nasturtium leaves and flowers

2

Give the the leaves and flowers a good wash under running water.

Washing nasturtium leaves

3

To a food processor, add the flowers, leaves, sunflower seeds, oil, garlic & salt and pepper. Pulse and blend until it is the consistency you prefer.

I don't have a food processor and I use my NutriBullet, and it works perfectly.

Nasturtium pesto ingrediens in NutriBullet

4

Transfer the pesto to a jar and keep it in the fridge for a week or keep it in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Nasturtium Pesto with Orange Flower

5

Mix it with fresh pasta and you have a tasty, quick and easy meal. Not to mention healthy!

Nasturtium pesto pasta

Ingredients

 2 cups Nasturtium leaves (40 - 50 leaves)
 1 cup Nasturtium flowers
 1 cup Sunflower seeds
 ¾ cup Olive oil
 5 Garlic cloves
 1 tsp Salt
 1 tsp Cracked black pepper

Directions

1

Pick fresh nasturtium leaves and flowers. Preferably in the early morning. The smaller the leaves, the less kick and bitter the leaves will be.

Nasturtium leaves and flowers

2

Give the the leaves and flowers a good wash under running water.

Washing nasturtium leaves

3

To a food processor, add the flowers, leaves, sunflower seeds, oil, garlic & salt and pepper. Pulse and blend until it is the consistency you prefer.

I don't have a food processor and I use my NutriBullet, and it works perfectly.

Nasturtium pesto ingrediens in NutriBullet

4

Transfer the pesto to a jar and keep it in the fridge for a week or keep it in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Nasturtium Pesto with Orange Flower

5

Mix it with fresh pasta and you have a tasty, quick and easy meal. Not to mention healthy!

Nasturtium pesto pasta

Nasturtium Pesto

How to make nasturtium pesto Pinterest foraging

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Meghan | The Mindful Stag
    August 31, 2022 at 10:21 pm

    I have never heard of nasturtium, but it seems like it has some amazing benefits and sounds delicious! I will certainly have to try this recipe! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

    • Reply
      Gypsy
      March 12, 2023 at 12:43 pm

      No problem at all. Where do you stay? They grow like weeds in our area. Love the leaves that looks like lily-pads. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jacky Tullier
    September 7, 2022 at 2:57 pm

    Wow! Great info & Great pics!! so vibrant. I’m definitely going to try to grow next Spring.

    • Reply
      Gypsy
      March 12, 2023 at 12:42 pm

      Thank you so much! They are such a treat.

  • Reply
    The Packrat Wifey
    March 12, 2023 at 12:37 pm

    Wow, that looks so delicious. I think this recipe is a must try at home. Btw, we usually used malunggay leaves to make green pasta/noodles here.

    • Reply
      Gypsy
      March 12, 2023 at 12:42 pm

      Oh wow! That sounds amazing. I have no idea what mulanggay is? I will have to google. Thank you for the suggestion. 🙂

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