On the Vice Munchies rooftop garden, a Nasturtium bush bursts with bright orange flowers and green leaves. These plants are popular in the culinary world for their zingy edible flowers, but their equally beautiful leaves are similar in taste and just half the price.
The smaller leaves can be used to garnish sweet or savory dishes, while the larger leaves will make a fun, organic appetizer plate. Their delicate round shape and striking star-like center will easily turn any plate from drab to enchanting.
Bottom-line, these often rejected leaves (for their prettier flowers) deserve a feature at your next fairytale-themed wedding.
AKA: Nose Twister • Indian Cress
Pronunciation: nuh • stur • shum
Origin: South America
Plant: Tropaeolum majus
Varieties: Verigated Nasturtium Leaves
History & Lore: The ancient Incas of Peru used nasturtium as a medicinal herb, while Thomas Jefferson grew them in his vegetable garden for aesthetic as well as eating. What’s more, during the Victorian era Vitamin C-rich Nasturtium Leaves were eaten to prevent scurvy (arrgh!).
In Season: Summer through early Fall
Nutrients: vitamins A, C, & D • beta carotene • flavonoids • iron • manganese
Benefits: improves the immune system • soothes sore throats, coughs, and colds • has antibiotic properties • treats hair loss • alleviates respiratory congestion • stimulates the digestive system
Replaces: arugula • spinach • mustard greens
Store: Farmer’s markets in Europe, regions of South America, and the United States. Seed packets can be found at garden centers.
Selection: Choose smaller, young leaves for milder flavor. Larger, old leaves take on a bitter, spicier flavor. If harvesting leaves from your own garden, try to pick them in the cool early morning before the heat stresses the plant and creates are more more pungent flavor.
Grow Your Own (via The Old Farmer’s Almanac)
Clean: Rinse the leaves under cool, running water, tossing them so all the dirt is washed off. Spread out the leaves on paper or kitchen towels and gently pat them dry. Alternately, use a salad spinner.
Storage: Stack the nasturtium leaves on top of each other and roll them in a paper towel. Place in a sealed place bag and keep in the fridge for up to five days.
Taste & Texture: aroma like mustard or watercress • radish-like taste • starts sweet, ends spicy • hot • tender • green • tangy • peppery • crisp
Suggested Uses: use in sandwiches • toss in stir-fry or pasta • decorate baked goods • add to green salads • add to omelets or potato salad • use as nori in homemade sushi • add to softened cheese spreads • leave in vinegar for 1 month to make a spicy vinaigrette
Nasturtium Pesto (via Martha Stewart)
Nasturtium & Shrimp Salad (via The Old Farmer’s Almanac)
Stuffed Nasturtium Leaves (via Attainable Sustainable)
- Nasturtium leaves are best eaten raw. Cooking them dilutes their flavor and nutritional properties, so try adding the leaves at the very end if cooking. They pair well with cheese, garlic, and various herbs.
- To tone down the intense bite of nasturtiums, toss them with sugar, honey, syrup, or fruit juice to give it a sweeter balance.
- Avoid eating nasturtiums sprayed or treated with pesticides as well as picking them from anywhere that isn’t a garden.
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DIY Nasturtium Tote
What do you know about Nasturtium Leaves?