Have you looked out the window at your garden lately? The beginning of August is prime garden season in Indiana where I am. Most of the plants that l planted back in April and May are growing like mad. It’s time to start reaping the benefits of these beautiful blooms. Where to start?
For me, I’m starting with my nasturtiums.
From just three or four plants I planted this spring, I’ve got a bumper crop of nasturtiums. If you’ve not planted them before, they spread like crazy and happily fill in the blank places in your garden. They’re a low-maintenance, high-enjoyment type of plant. Let’s look at some ways I like to use them at my house.
Arrange them in a Vase
I love to snip several stems of nasturtiums, tie them together, add water, and put them in a pretty little vase. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. But simple doesn’t mean boring. They certainly pack a punch of color and scent. I adore the smell of nasturtiums. They’re a close second to the scent of roses. When you walk by a patch basking in the summer sun, you can’t help but be enveloped in their warm, sweet aroma. And even a small display in your home will infuse your room with their lovely scent for a few days.
Add them to your Salad
Both the flowers and the leaves of nasturtiums are edible and high in Vitamin C. Snip the mild-peppery flavored leaves into smaller pieces and toss them in with other salad greens. The flowers are tasty too and make a beautiful display in your salad. I purchased a bottle of violet balsamic vinegar from a specialty shop, and I splash that over the top of the salad along with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). Use about twice as much EVOO as vinegar. It tastes divine!
Make a Roll-up with the Leaves
Nasturtium leaves can grow as large as the palm of your hand, so they make an excellent roll-up for cheese spreads, tuna, egg, or chicken salad, and the like. Simply spread the leaf with the
filling of your choice (I love dill-flavored cream cheese), add any other filling you desire such as shaved turkey or ham, roll up, and secure with a toothpick. Arrange on a plate and drizzle your favorite type of dressing over the top. To really make it shine, add a few nasturtium flowers to the plate.
Recipe from Phyllis Shaudys The Pleasure of Herbs
My very first herb book that I ever purchased was The Pleasure of Herbs by Phyllis Shaudys, and it is still my favorite. I bought my copy in the 1980s and it is packed with recipes and projects. I found this recipe for Nasturtium Salad, which she adapted from the Herb Society of Greater Cincinnati in the August chapter, and I’ve adapted by adding lettuce and other vegetables.
- 1 cucumber
- Small package of Mesclun
- One-half red pepper, sliced in strips
- 12 Cherry Tomatoes
- 12 small nasturtium leaves
- 1/2 tsp. Dry mustard
- 2 Tbsp. Wine vinegar
- 6 Tbsp. Salad oil
- Salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp. Chopped fresh tarragon
- 6 Nasturtium flowers with leaves
- Peel and slice cucumbers thinly. Wash cherry tomatoes, red pepper, mesclun leaves. Wash nasturtium leaves; remove stems and drain. Mix well in blender the remaining ingredients except for the flowers with leaves. When ready to serve, combine the cucumbers, small nasturtium leaves, mesclun, tomatoes, pepper strips and the dressing and toss gently. Garnish with the flowers with leaves.
Now it’s your turn. If you don’t have nasturtiums in your garden, choose something else and delight yourself in the botanical goodness that’s right our your back door. Leave a comment as to what you’re harvesting today!