Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums, flowers that pack a peppery punch.

They may be native to Peru, but Nasturtiums are great to grow here in the UK, flowering from Summer through to Autumn. Part of our Hot Leaf Salad Seedbombs, we’d like to introduce you to these special plants that taste as good as they look.

Nasturtiums come in a wide variety of colours and will really brighten up your garden or window box. Bees love the blossom and they attract Cabbage White Butterfly too. Like us all, they adore the sun, so any south facing spot is perfect to help ensure you get a bumper crop. The richer the soil, the more bite you’ll find in the leaves and this means that our unique espresso mushroom compost will maximise their tastiness.

The word Nasturtiums actually comes from the Latin Tropaeolum, which translates to “Nose Twist”. This reflects their surprisingly peppery flavour, which is similar to watercress and helps add a little heat to any dish. Their leaves are bright green and round; we think this makes them look like small lily pads. However, what makes this plant particularly special is that you can eat all parts of it. Flowers, seeds, leaves, stem and all. This means you’ll have a wealth of ways to use it in the kitchen.

Perfect in salads, the flowers help to really brighten up your greens and make any meal look restaurant standard. That’s not all; they can be stuffed, made into pesto, added to soups and even coated in sugar. They’re great with any seafood and if pickled, are an exciting alternative to capers. You could even try making a really pretty Mozzarella, Anchovy & Nasturtium Pizza or some seriously appetising appetisers.

These hardy plants not only taste great, but they also have some real flower power. In Peru they were used in Andean herbal medicine as a disinfectant and wound healing herb. So if you feel like it, you can even use them to make an antiseptic wash. When eaten they have lots of health benefits too, being full of Vitamin A, C, D and Iron. The Glucocyanates, which give it its peppery taste, have been associated with lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. They also contain Spilanthol, which has high levels of antioxidants; great for keeping you looking young. But eat them quick as they will start to lose their nutritional content within two hours of being picked!

We’d love to see how your nasturtiums are coming along, so if you’ve been growing the Hot Leaf Salad Seedbombs this summer, do send us a photo – or any recipe ideas you’ve had. You can do this by email to info@espressomushroom.co.uk, or tweet us at @emc_mushroom

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