Nasturtium Pesto


 Afternoon all! Here’s hoping everyone had lovely weekends. Just a quick post from me to kick off the week and share a new favourite recipe. Our vegetable garden is wilting a little at the moment (despite daily watering), but one plant that seems to be thriving and multiplying in this heat are the nasturtiums. Alice and I threw a couple of seeds into the herb box last Spring and they are now growing like topsy.

Loathe to waste what little we actually manage to harvest from the garden, (my thumbs, are sadly, far from green),  I hit the books and found a recipe for ‘garden pesto’ in my preserving bible, The River Cottage Handbook No.2 - Preserves. The key ingredient here is a whole bunch of nasturtium leaves and despite some reservations I gave it a go. And what do you know? Bingo, this is a really great pesto recipe. The leaves are fairly peppery (I’ve since taken to adding them to salads just raw too) and add a gorgeous fresh flavour to the pesto but I do think you need to invest in a really nice piece of cheese to carry the whole thing through. You only need 80g for this recipe so about five or six dollars should get you a lovely hard sheep or cow’s milk cheese.

We tried our jar as both a dip with carrot and bread sticks and also spread it over some fish before baking. Super versatile, you can also freeze extra in ice cube trays to pop out and add to pasta and slow cooked dishes (one or two cubes will really pep up a bolognaise sauce or heavy stew). If you have an abundance of nasturtiums in your garden please give this simple idea a go. And what a considerate plant, it comes with it's very own garnish, those beautiful (edible) marigold flowers.

Nasturtium Pesto

Recipe adapted from one found in The River Cottage Handbook No.2 - Preserves. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

50g nasturtium leaves (about 3 handfuls)
4 mint leaves
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
6 nasturtium seed pods*
60g pine nuts, toasted
80g hard cheese (parmesan or pecorino) grated
Juice and zest of one lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 nasturtium flowers
Salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blitz until you have a nice, thick consistency. Taste and add more salt, lemon juice or cheese to taste. Spoon into a glass jar and seal with a little extra olive oil then keep in the fridge until needed. That’s it!

*The green nasturtium seed pods (see  below left) add peppery flavour to this pesto but can also be pickled as you would capers, if you'd like to try this, please click over to this recipe.

Ps...I just finished writing the menu for this weekend's first Farm Kitchen lunch for 2015 (still 4 spots available) and my pickled peaches have themselves a guernsey in the entree (carpaccio). Hopefully it'll be a cool and fresh shared meal full of late summer’s best.

This is so the time of year to be writing menus, spoilt for choice in both the veggie and fruit department! If free this weekend, why not come along? Cost is $75 pp and includes the below plus a farm tour with Tim (we are BYO). Mabybe even hit the farmers markets first thing then slowly make your way out to us via some of Cargo Road’s cellar doors. Not a bad way to spend Valentines Day, whether celebrating it or not! Please email me for more information;

Menu, February 14th

On arrival - Sparkling of Orange with venison salami and salted olive crisps/

Entree - Venison carpaccio with pickled peaches, peppery greens, Jannei goat’s curd and rustic garlic loaves/

Main - Chargrilled venison backstrap with a chargrilled capsicum, hazlenut and pomegranate puree/
Kipflers with nasturtium pesto/
Salad of fresh herbs and rocket and with a caramelised verjus vinaigrette/
Shaved zucchinis with garlic, mint and toasted seeds/

Pud - Nectarine tarts with tarragon and mint ice cream/


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