Introduction: Homemade Pesto

Picture of Homemade Pesto

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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of Wash 'Em Up

Wash your leaves and flowers in cool tap water.

Step 5: Off With Their Heads

Picture of Off With Their Heads

Use a sharp chef's knife to remove the leaves from the stems.

Step 6: Chop Chop!

Picture of Chop Chop!

Finely chop the stems.*

*Learn how to chop safely using my 'How to Chop Onions' Instructable.

Step 7: Toasting Your Nuts

Picture of 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

Picture of Cold Water Bath

Prep a medium sized bowl with water and ice. Set aside.

Step 9: Flash Your Greens

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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!


MikaelaHolmes (author)2016-06-24

Oh, there's so much interesting information/variation in here! I love making pesto, but I've never made it with nasturtiums, and I've never toasted my nuts or flash boiled my greens. What's the benefit of flash boiling the greens? And what does this pesto taste like?? Is it spicy like nasturtium flowers? Can't wait to try it!

Great questions! Flash boiling (aka blanching) the greens makes the color brighter and helps bring out the flavor even more! But if you don't have time to do this, not to worry, the pesto will still be delicious. The nasturtium leaves give the pesto a more peppery taste than traditional basil leaves, but is evened out by the nuts, oil, and parmesan, so that it isn't overpowering. Let me know what you think if you try it!

Pavlovafowl (author)2014-08-13

What a great idea! We grow and eat nasturtiums all the time but I never thought of making pesto. I have however made it with carrot tops. which was.. interesting! Shall certainly be making this. Great photographs too! All the very best from France, Sue

jackcamino (author)2014-05-15

This is not pesto because it is not made of basil. I would name it Nasturtium paste or Nasturtium purée.

craftclarity (author)2014-05-14


Tarun Upadhyaya (author)2014-04-22

As per your description about this plant It sounds very yummmy!!!, I love your photographs and the plant has such beautiful flowers.

CrystalB01 (author)2014-04-21

I love pesto

Ludvic (author)2014-04-21

In italy we use the basil to make pesto

About This Instructable




Bio: Made in Canada, I grew up crafting, making, and baking. Out of this love for designing and creating, I pursued a BFA in product design ... More »
More by Paige Russell:How to Store 3D Printing Filament3D Printed STEM RacersCustom Bubble Wands
Add instructable to: