Nasturtium Pesto with Preserved Lemon | Hitchhiking to Heaven

Nasturtium Pesto

Nasturtium Pesto with Preserved Lemon | Hitchhiking to Heaven

A simple bowl of wheat-free pasta, nasturtium pesto, grated parmesan, and preserved lemon.

My friends have been into some pretty cool stuff lately:

Julia just showed us how to prepare horseradish instead of using store bought. That’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I don’t know what I’ve been waiting for; it’s easy!

Kaela uncovered a nifty recipe for radish pesto at Delicious Days.

Joel at Well Preserved posted a great list of foraging apps for smartphones. [Update April 2017: Plenty has changed since this post was published six years ago! These days, the most well-established foraging app is Wild Edibles, which comes in both full and lite (free) versions.] 

Nasturtium | Hitchhiking to Heaven

Finally, Kate and Marisa both shouted out this terrific post at Chiot’s Run about how to organize your storage freezer.

I am not going to try to explain exactly how all of these things collided in my brain so that I ran out the back door and started picking nasturtiums to make nasturtium pesto right away. But consider: (1) useful things that are simple to prepare, (2) pesto of a different stripe, (3) hunting weeds, and (4) thinking ahead to what I might keep in the new freezer that will arrive at our house next week . . .

Boom! Nasturtium pesto.

It took all of twenty minutes to make this, including picking the leaves. (That’s a fraction of the time it will take to finish this post. Having a blog is a funny thing.) I threw in some of the pickled nasturtium pods (California Capers) I made last summer. They’re a nice addition, but by no means necessary. You can just pick some tender nasturtium leaves and get busy.

Nasturtium Pesto Ingredients | Hitchhiking to Heaven

Nasturtium Pesto

4 cups packed nasturtium leaves, plus a handful of nasturtium flowers
2 tablespoons pickled nasturtium pods (optional)
4 cloves garlic
1 cup walnuts
1 large lemon, juiced
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt, adjusted to taste

black pepper to taste

Put everything but the salt and pepper into a blender or food processor and mix until smooth. (If you don’t have pickled pods, don’t worry about it. Instead, think about adding a dash of hot sauce for a little extra bite. I don’t think I’d add nasturtium pods that haven’t been processed and brined; they can be bitter.) Add salt and pepper to taste.

I put one jar into the fridge and froze the rest of the pesto in ice cube trays. I’ll transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer storage bag so I can use them later.

Nasturtium Pesto | Hitchhiking to Heaven


Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like


  • Reply tigress April 19, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I love it! what does it taste like? because last summer I grew some and the leaves were kinda spicy. do they retain some of that bite in the pesto?

    • Reply Shae April 19, 2011 at 9:56 pm

      Mine has just a little bitta bite. I think the best thing to do is exactly what you did — bite the leaves to see what you’ll get. If I had a tigress’s tastes, I could see adding an extra splash or dash of heat to the mix. :-)

  • Reply kaela April 19, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    I’ve eaten the flowers and the pods, but somehow it never occurred to me that the leaves are edible. Brilliant!

    And I’m jealous of the foraging apps.. I feel like the only human on the planet without a smart phone.

    • Reply Shae April 19, 2011 at 9:59 pm

      This is the first time I’ve really put the leaves to work. It was kind of a forehead slap for me, too. And you know, the apps are fun, but you’re still gonna get a lot more out of a good local field guide. They have a way to go before they’re truly regional and fully functional — but I bet they’ll get there. They need to come up to the standard of iBird, which is an awesome iPhone app for birders.

  • Reply Jenn April 19, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    OMG! I LOVE you for this! Nasturtium is my FAV flower by far and I grow every variety I can get my hands on. I love adding flowers to my salads and I too use the pods as capers, but it never crossed my pea brain mind to make pesto! I am so super excited to try this. Just one more way for me to enjoy my nasturtium abundance. Thank you for such awesome ideas

    • Reply Shae April 19, 2011 at 10:08 pm

      Jenn, thanks for your enthusiastic comment! My pea brain was rolling through the garden only slightly ahead of yours. As someone who’s also loved nasturtium for a long time, it took a while for me to catch on to this. I look forward to keeping some in the freezer so it’s available even when the nasturtiums go through their ratty phase, you know?

  • Reply Nicole April 19, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    I already had Nasturtium Capers on my list to make this summer. I am definitely adding this as well. Nasturtiums grow like weeds in Fairbanks. This will be great. Thanks for the idea.

  • Reply Shae April 19, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Nicole, this would make a great Alaska project, wouldn’t it? You’ll have to let me know how it goes.

  • Reply meg April 19, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Kaela- not the only one. I still don’t have one. June- in june I’ll break down!
    Shae- that pesto absolutely could not be a more gorgeous shade of green! I never thought to make pesto with it (and I make pesto out of about anything) even though I use the leaves in salads. I can’t wait for my nasturtiums to come back! woot!

  • Reply Shae April 19, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Meg, it’s not just the photos, either — it really is that green! It’s kinda crazy. Your nasturtiums will be back soon, right?

  • Reply Julia April 20, 2011 at 3:34 am

    Even your phone looks gorgeous, Shae! And, with Meg and Kaela, I don’t have one and have no idea how apps work. But I know nasturtiums, and I like the look of this! The last few years, my nasturtiums have suffered and I’m always jealous of these lush specimens you are growing!! Nice!

  • Reply Shae April 20, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Ha! Thanks, Jules. I had actually put the phone into the bowl while I was picking, then I noticed that it matched. (I’m totally addicted to the thing, plus I was using it as the camera for this post.) Nasturtiums do so well here. To my mind, you just can’t live on or around the Northern California coast without letting some part of your property be overrun with them. I hope yours are perkier this year. But if not, remember the rhubarb!

  • Reply twobythesea April 21, 2011 at 9:55 am

    You got me with this one! Love it and can’t wait until my newly planeted little nasturtuims grow up.

    • Reply Shae May 2, 2011 at 9:05 am

      You will like it, Pat. I promise!

  • Reply Follow up on Trendspotting | Life Currents April 26, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    […] as in “go to the garden and gather them up”. Dandelion Vinegar. Pineapple Weed Tea. Nasturtium Pesto. Dandelion Jelly. (I have lots of weeds in my garden, and to be quite honest, I’m kind of […]

  • Reply Jae April 26, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    My Mother-in-law used to put Nasturtium leaves in sandwiches. Being in the country lettuce was not always available but the ubiqutus ‘nasty’ was laways around!

    • Reply Shae May 2, 2011 at 9:04 am

      Jae, that reminds me that this nasturtium pesto would be a nice addition to a sandwich. I think I’m going to have to make more. Generally, I want to remember that the leaves (some of mine are huge!) have other uses, too. Thanks!

  • Reply Karen April 29, 2011 at 8:47 am

    This looks delicious. I’m always looking for more ways to make pesto. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Reply Shae May 2, 2011 at 8:59 am

      Thanks, Karen. I hope you’ll give it a try!

  • Reply May Preserving Ideas « Well Preserved April 30, 2011 at 6:14 am

    […] Shae from Hitchhiking to Heaven made Nasturtium Pesto. […]

  • Reply Gloria May 17, 2011 at 8:46 am

    That wonderful image of the nasturtiums with your phone – are you being sponsored? Kaela, join the club. I don’t have a swish phone either. I left technology behind about 5 years ago. If there’s a preserving app I’m going to have to get back up to speed.

    • Reply Shae May 17, 2011 at 11:48 am

      Hi Gloria! Sponsored as in paid something? I wish! I’m just addicted, is all. :-)

  • Reply Nasturtium Niceties | Heed the Hedonist July 9, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    […] and the flowers can be used to make pesto (Shae’s blog Hitchhiking to Heaven has a great Nasturtium Pesto recipe that was posted this past April that’s worth checking out). When the blossoms die off and the […]

  • Reply I bet you didn’t know your nasturtiums could do this. | Plantling August 23, 2011 at 7:47 am

    […] Nasturtium pesto […]

  • Reply Kristin July 14, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    I just made some out of our nasturtiums that were huge like bushes. Thanks for the recipie! I will make a post about it on my blog :)

    • Reply Shae July 23, 2012 at 8:35 am

      Thanks, Kristin! I look forward to checking out your blog.

  • Reply Nasturtium pesto | July 15, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    […] the whole list of ingredients that was inspired by this nice […]

  • Reply Joan September 14, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Is it 1.5 cups of olive oil?

    Sounds delish!


    • Reply Shae September 14, 2012 at 9:42 pm

      Yes, Joan, 1.5 cups — but I’ll tell you, I made it again this year and I used only 1 cup. I think it’s a matter of personal taste, and it’s good either way, but it turned out I liked it better with less oil. Hope you give it a try!

  • Reply Karen September 15, 2012 at 6:56 am

    This is just the recipe I was looking for. A friend is cutting back her nasturtium patch and has offered me the leaves. I win!

    Tip: When I’ve grown my own nasturtiums, I would send the kids out to the garden to pick the biggest, thickest leaves to garnish hamburgers. They’re a perfect replacement for lettuce.

  • Reply marislunch April 4, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    These are currently growing everywhere in my garden. I knew the flowers were edible, but this makes use of every part! As a city gal, this recipe is blowing my mind. I will be making this this weekend and will let you know if it passes the taste test of the “picky three”.

    • Reply Shae April 8, 2013 at 6:25 am

      I look forward to hearing how it went over. I have been making big batch every spring and freezing it for use throughout the year.

  • Reply Tuesday is Herb Day – NASTURTIUMS! | Lilith's Herb Garden May 27, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    […] I planted quite a lot of nasturtium seeds in one of my garden beds a few months ago, not expecting them to do much as it’s in an area that gets almost no sun in the dark half of the year. Naturally, every single one germinated and the bed is now a riot of nasturtium leaves, some almost the size of plates (although no flowers have appeared as yet). They are so rampant they are even overshadowing my horseradish and I needed to do something to cut them back a bit. But there’s only so many leaves that I can put in a salad… Salads which I am pretty much the only person in the household to eat… And then I came across a solution: nasturtium pesto […]

  • Reply Kym July 20, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    I made this and replaced the oil for a can of butter beans and also added more lemon juice some parsley.
    It is great!

    • Reply Shae August 3, 2013 at 8:37 am

      That sounds great, Kym! Thanks for sharing your modifications.

  • Reply Winter Newsletter – Community Garden | West Leederville Residents Association August 7, 2015 at 1:56 am

    […] Pesto (from Hitchhiking to Heaven) (This is divine with chunks of fresh […]

  • Reply Nick August 23, 2017 at 10:34 pm

    Will be trying this asap.
    Have you made nasturtium crisps yet? – another great use for the leaves and loved by the kids – simply give a light spray with oil, sprinkle a bit of salt and pop in the oven for a minute or so (until they turn crisp and brittle). Strangely they seem to lose their bite when cooked and have more of a buttery flavour.

  • Reply May Preserving Ideas - WellPreserved September 19, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    […] Shae from Hitchhiking to Heaven made Nasturtium Pesto. […]

  • Leave a Reply