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Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Simple Nasturtium

The nasturtium is one of the most versatile easy to grow flowers.  Every year I save the seeds produced by this lovely annual for my next year's garden.    They grow from seed, sown early in the spring as soon as the soil warms up.   They like sunny locations for lots of blooms, but will grow in shady spots as well.   They grow well in garden beds, planters and window boxes.  They will self-seed.

Not only do nasturtiums grow quickly from seed, which makes them a frugal addition to your garden, they are also edible and have medicinal qualities.     The flowers can be used in salads and other recipes and the buds pickled - can be used as a replacement for capers.     The flowers are high in vitamin C and thought to help prevent scurvy, lung problems and blocked bronchial tubes. 

"They are a native of Peru, brought by Spanish conquistadors to Spain early in the sixteenth century. This bright yellow, orange or red flower traveled to England at the end of the sixteenth century as a decorative plant. Monet's famous garden at Giverny was laden with nasturtiums as they fit the impressionist style of shimmering, blurred colors and spilled over pathways like enthusiastic brush strokes."

I've picked the last of my nasturtiums from my garden and made this delicious hummus from the flowers.

Nasturtium Hummus
1 can chick peas (garbonzo beans) - 19 oz
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped nastrtium blossoms
salt and pepper to taste.

Drain chick peas, saving the liquid.    In blender or food processor, add chick peas, lemon juice, tahini, garlic and 3 tablespoons of reserved chick pea liquid.  Blend/process until smooth. If it's too thick, continue to add reserved liquid, until desired consistency is reached - but not too runny.  Stir in salt/pepper to taste.  Gently stir in nasturtium blossoms.   Let sit for at least one hour so flavours can meld.  Can be stored in fridge for up to a week, or frozen for later use.

Nasturtium Hummus


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