Nasturtiums are plentiful this time of the year. They are packed with nutrients like iron, vitamins and minerals, and contain chemicals called glucosinolates (similar to what is found in broccoli and brussel sprouts), which have antibiotic and antioxidant actions. Nasturtium is excellent for those with chest problems; Madaus, a Germany company, uses nasturtium to produce capsules for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant lung and bladder infections.
Both the leaves and the flowers are edible, and make a great addition to salads. The leaves are very strong when eaten alone, but on a sandwich they don't burn the mouth and add a great flavour. They are certainly more nutritious than ordinary lettuce.
I invented this pesto recipe to preserve as many of the rich nutrients of the leaves for as long as possible. I find it quite delicious and am going to freeze quite a lot for use in the summer, because by then the nasturtiums in my garden are finished.
- 200g freshly picked nasturtium leaves. (Check for aphids and brush them off. There is no need to wash the leaves if they are grown away from a road.)
- 250ml good quality olive oil
- 100g pumpkin seeds
- 50g fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon Chilli and Garlic salt (I use Ina Paarman's)
- 50g fresh parmesan cheese (optional)<
Place the olive oil in a blender and add the nasturtium leaves gradually until they are all ground up.
Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.
If you wish you could add 50g or so of parmesan cheese, which would make it even more delicious!
This pesto is very nice used in place of butter in a sandwich and specially good on toast as a snack. Best of all it's excellent for one's health.
Dr Connie Meyer qualified from the College of Phytotherapy in the UK and is in private practice as a medical herbalist in Durbanville. She lectured at the University of the Western Cape for several years, and served on the Allied Health Professions’ Council of South Africa.
In her spare time she is an enthusiastic organic gardener and grows herbs, vegetables and fruit, bakes all her own bread and enjoys a healthy and eco-sensitive lifestyle.
Web: Herb Realm
Tel: 021 976 5200