Maybe it's the lilypad-like roundness of the leaves that makes nasturtiums so appealing, or the peppery spice that flavors them. Maybe it's the succulent crunch of the stems, or the loads of vitamin C and iron your body absorbs from them. Or maybe you're like me, and haven't gotten your garden in yet this year, and didn't remember to pick up greens the last time you went shopping, but you still want greens in your breakfast.
Nasturtiums to the rescue! Kamal and I planted this little strip of nasturtiums back when he was toddling around, not even two years old yet.
Because the nature of nasturtiums is to grow and thrive no matter what, these plants have survived extensive neglect and extreme weather and still cheer us up every spring through fall. They don't care that we haven't gotten our kale and chard and beets planted--rather, they happily offer up their rich green foliage and neon-bright blossoms.
Like other perennials, nasturtiums have the added benefit of conserving the infinitely valuable resource of topsoil. They're more sustainable than annuals, both in terms of topsoil and the energy of the gardener: perennials helpfully return every year, which make them perfect for the busy vegetable-eater that doesn't always make time for her garden.
There are a lot of ways to serve nasturtiums: in soup, in salad, as pretty garnishes. I like to saute the tender leaves in a skillet with my rice and eggs in the morning, treating them more or less like baby spinach.
Once in a while I crisp them up instead and eat them like furikake, crumbled and sprinkled over my rice. Here's how!
Crisped Nasturtium Leaves
-Separate stalks from leaves, cutting as close to the leaf as possible.
-Chop the stalks into small pieces, and set aside to be sauteed separately.
-Liberally coat a large, heavy skillet with an oil that has a high smoke point (I used grapeseed oil) and heat the oil till it shimmers.
-Carefully add the nasturtium leaves, keeping them as flat as possible.
-When the edges of the leaves are crisp, flip them very carefully with a silicone spatula.
-When the leaves are very crisp all over, remove them to a rack over a dishtowel to cool.
-Crumble the leaves over your egg and rice! Crisped and crumbled nasturtium leaves, though deliciously crunchy and peppery, are regrettably unphotogenic. But that's what flower garnishes are for! (Ta-da!)