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Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Nasturtiums in Salads, Sandwiches, Smoothies, and Pesto

We are already using our nasturtiums in salads and sandwiches, both the blossoms and leaves.

This is the basket with a nasturtium plant that I overwintered indoors (next to a  south-facing window) this past fall, winter, and early spring. Because it got that great head-start for the season, it's flowering already (began about 10-14 days ago). 

In contrast, this is a nasturtium plant that I started from seed this spring indoors (under lights) before transplanting out to the baskets. Nice, but not ready for picking. I read online that nasturtiums don't transplant well. Well, they did for me. Every single plant is thriving.

When I pick the flowers for salads, I gently wash them in the bowl with the other greens. After a light pat dry, I remove the petals from the stem. There are 5 petals to each blossom. So, that's 5 whole petals per blossom tossed in the salad. A few blossoms will add a nice touch of color to a family-sized salad. They have a mild radish flavor, just a little peppery. In addition to salads, chopped fresh blossoms are a nice addition to bean spread sandwiches.

I also use the leaves from the nasturtium plants. I pick young leaves and wash with the other greens. I remove the rest of the stem from the back side of the leaf, then tear into 3 or 4 pieces. 

The leaves can be used in salads, on sandwiches, in green smoothies, or to make pesto. They have a peppery taste, much like watercress.

In addition to adding color to my garden and flavor to our salads and sandwiches, nasturtiums are also beneficial in the flower and vegetable garden by attracting hover flies/syrphid flies. Hover flies eat aphids in enormous amounts. Planting nasturtiums in the garden can be a non-toxic part of the insect control program. Beauty, edible, pest control -- win, win, win for my garden!


  1. I wasn't sure what a hover fly was, but when I looked it up, I recognized it. We had a lot of them at our other house, but I haven't seen much of them here even though they are supposed to like bachelor's buttons which we have.

    Nasturtiums are very pretty whether they're on your porch or in a salad. I haven't grown them in a while and there's no room for them this year. I'm still trying to figure out where to plant several things. The termite treatments have reduced the number of beds I can put food items in.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      maybe the hover flies aren't finding enough aphids to feast on in your current garden. That could be a good thing.
      Good luck finding places for all that you want to grow this year!

  2. So pretty and colorful! I have had very little success growing them here, but may try again this fall, when it's cooler again. I've generally tried to direct sow, so maybe I'll give starting them inside a whirl, since it has worked so well for you.

    1. Hi Cat,
      I'm guessing it's too hot and dry where you are in your main summer season. Nasturtiums seem to do better when it's not too hot or dry. Fall might work for you.
      I was very pleased to discover that starting these indoors under lights and then transplant them did work for me. I hope it works for you, too!

  3. so interesting Lili. I love learning these little tidbits from you. I have grown nasturtiums but not for eating, but I will now. I love the colorful garnish touch!

    1. Hi Ruthie,
      I love the addition of color to a salad, too. I think the petals look so pretty. Enjoy!

  4. Wow, already eating the blossoms. I know you got a head start on your nasturtium, but that's still early. Hubby grows ours. I don't think I would ever have tried eating them if it hadn't been for him.

    1. Hi Kris,
      well, of course, this is only on the plant that overwintered indoors from last summer's basket. I hope we get blossoms on the other (new) plants before too long. I'll try to keep a couple of baskets indoors in a window this winter if I can. The one plant looked a little sickly toward the end of winter, but it perked right up once I put it back outdoors when weather warmed.


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