Foraging in a city for edibles can be more fun and fruitful than you think. I only had to look as as far as my friend's front yard to find the main ingredient for my homemade pesto - nasturtium leaves!
Step 1: Nasturtium
This easy to grow annual's leaves and flowers are both edible, making it a great choice for home landscaping. (read: a great urban 'back up' food in case of earthquake, unannounced extended family invasion, etc.) As long as the plants have not been fertilized with chemicals, they are perfectly safe to eat and are super peppery/delicious.
A hearty and fast growing plant, nasturtium (scientific name: Tropaeolum) work both as ground cover and as a trellis climber (pictured).
Step 2: Nasturtium Pesto Ingredients
- 2 cups nasturtium leaves*
- 1/4 cup finely chopped nasturtium stems
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4 small cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
*You can substitute with classic basil leaves. There's no need to flash cook these if this is the route you take.
Step 3: Harvesting Your Greens
Hand pick 20 - 24 medium sized nasturtium leaves by pinching them at the base of their stems.
Also pick one large leaf and 1-2 flowers for presentation and garnish.
Step 4: Wash 'Em Up
Wash your leaves and flowers in cool tap water.
Step 5: Off With Their Heads
Use a sharp chef's knife to remove the leaves from the stems.
Step 6: Chop Chop!
Finely chop the stems.*
*Learn how to chop safely using my 'How to Chop Onions' Instructable.
Step 7: Toasting Your Nuts
To toast your pine nuts, place them in a shallow pan on low heat for 10-12 minutes, shaking the pan often.
Step 8: Cold Water Bath
Prep a medium sized bowl with water and ice. Set aside.
Step 9: Flash Your Greens
Boil a pot of water and flash cook your leaves for 10 seconds.
Remove immediately and place in the bowl of ice water. Once cool, transfer to a colander to drain.
Step 10: Oil Up
Measure out 1/2 cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil*.
Try delicious California grown Other Brother Olive Oil.
Step 11: Mix It Up
Place all the ingredients, except the stems and parmesan cheese, in a small blender and blend until mixed and smooth.
Step 12: Stir & Fold
Transfer the pesto mix from the blender into a small mixing bowl and fold in the cheese and chopped stems. Stir until well mixed.
Step 13: Dress Up & Serve
If you're using your pesto as a dipping sauce (which I love doing with cut veggies and Italian bread sticks), place in a small serving bowl and add 1-2 flowers as garnish. If you're adding it to pasta or rice, toss in and add a flower as garnish to each plated dish.
Enjoy! And if you end up trying this recipe, please click the 'I Made It' button and post a picture here in the comments section!