Nasturtiums are blooming wildly around the island right now, which is always a pleasing sight. Liz Jones in “A Nose For Nasturtiums”, called the gorgeous flowers, “a feast to the sense of smell as well as sight”. She goes on to tell us, “the common name originates from the Latin words for nose—nasus—and for twisted—tortus. That’s because their pungent smell was supposed to make the nose twist. I actually love the smell—it’s fresh and peppery, a real invitation to the sense of taste. And quite often we do eat the leaves in a salad, while the pickled buds are tastier than capers.”
Salad is the simplest way to enjoy the beauty and flavor of these edible flowers. Here’s a great salad recipe that celebrates the flavour and colour of nasturtiums:
2 1/2 tablespoons grapeseed, safflower, or canola oil
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon minced tarragon
1 Persian cucumber or 1/3 English cucumber
About 50 sugar snap peas
1/4 cup lightly packed chervil sprigs (optional)
3 ounces mâche clusters (about 3 lightly packed cups)
4 ounces mesclun (about 6 lightly packed cups)
4 medium radishes, sliced in half lengthwise
1. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and tarragon.
2. Thinly slice cucumber. Split 30 of the fatter peapods and remove the peas; set aside. Gently rinse chervil, mâche, and mesclun and gently spin twice in a salad spinner to thoroughly dry the leaves.
3. Put greens in a large bowl and toss gently but thoroughly with 3 tbsp. dressing (leaves should be barely coated), adding more dressing if necessary.
4. Divide greens among plates. To each salad, add a few slices of cucumber, some sugar snap peas (both whole pods and just the peas), and some radishes. Drizzle with any remaining dressing, if you like, and top with whole flowers and flower petals.