Nasturtiums are my favorite annuals. Their orange blooms make the mornings brighter, the evenings glow.
This year my nasturtiums have performed as never before. They make beautiful color combinations as they twine through the weathered gray fence, romp around the beruffled hot pink rose, lollop under the rusty birdbath. Any day now they’ll insinuate themselves into the fuzzy, soft green sage. They are brazen hussies. I love that about them.
At dusk, their brilliant orange fluoresces — they look as if they’re lit from within. Not all nasturtiums are orange, of course. There’s a creamy yellow, a vivid Crayola yellow/orange, a deep red, and sometimes, a wussy melted sherbet shade. Generally those “other” colors don’t last a full season, at least not in my garden.
Nasturtiums are more than jeweled bouquets on my kitchen table from early summer to first frost though. They’re edibles that can brighten a salad with their color and peppery taste. Their scent is similar to that of peaches cooking down for jam. And as the flowers die away the seeds can be pickled to make “poor man’s capers.”
A few nights ago I wanted to perk up the “look” of our dinner — predictable green peas, bland white baked potato, and broiled salmon. I garnished our plates with one orange and one yellow nasturtium each. “They’re edible you know,” I said to Peter.
He looked at me askance. My husband does askance better than anyone I know.
“Just try one.” I munched on a flower head. “Mm-mmmm!”
Again with the askance.
“C’mon, if you can eat eel sushi you can try nasturtium,” I ragged.
He nibbled, but was not convinced.
The meal tasted exceptionally good to me, and Peter cleaned his plate saying, as he does when I’ve fixed something he especially likes, “Thank you, ‘Mum.’”
“You liked the salmon then?” He always likes salmon, or just about any fish.
“Must’ve been good,” he said, tipping up his plate. It was as clean as if the dog had licked it.
I chuckled. “Know why it tasted so good, what the difference was?”
He was wary.
“I rolled the fillets in minced nasturtium blossoms,” I said. “That’s what gave them the spiky bite.”
He eyebrows went up, but his lips didn’t move.
The next day our friends Shelia and Jerry were here. I told them the nasturtium-encrusted salmon story while we ate lunch outside. Jerry wrinkled his nose, but Shelia was interested, so I ran to the herb garden the nasturtiums had claimed, picked several each of the different colors, and encouraged a tasting.
Shelia decided she’d plant nasturtiums next year, Jerry didn’t say no, and Peter? The phrase “you can lead a mule to water but you can’t make him drink” comes to mind.
I love nasturtiums too and especially your description of them! Like Peter though, I think I’d rather look at them than eat them!
Do not look askance until you’ve tried them.
It’s oh so true what Judy says. The nasturtiums were wonderful and I am planting a bushel next year. Today I was thinking of our eating them at Judy’s and Pete’s and there’s her post re: them! Same wave length? I think not as Judy is beyond me. Love her and such a gracious host and great friend.
Thanks, Shelia. I just sat down to send you a note about using your names, and there you were. Same wave length for sure!
I will have you know that when I was in Denmark this past summer we stayed at this charming inn and they had nasturtiums on the salad. They had a big garden that they grew everything including a big patch of nasturtiums. Never thought of doing anything else except on a salad or to brighten a dish, love the salmon idea!
I’m thinking…baking with nasturtiums? You try it and let me know! 😉
I love nasturtiums, so peppery in a salad and so beautiful in a garden! Even if I didn’t know where yours were growing, I would be able to see them in my mind from your story!!
Thanks for your unbiased comment, Chick.
hee hee! I love to eat nasturtiums too. I used to have a stuffed nasturtium recipe. I think they were stuffed with cream cheese and herbs. I couldn’t grow them in Florida, and so I forgot about nasturtiums – until now. Thank you!
If you find that recipe will you share? Though don’t bother looking until next year. My nasturtiums are history now.
Yes, another old fashioned flower my grandmother loved…I picked [hers] and decorated my beloved Tiger kitty with nasturtium wreaths! He was so sweet and never complained, just kept purring! Ah, the memories you are bringing back–how do you do it!! We never thought of Eating them tho!!
No wonder your article was accepted! Bravo!
Thanks, Adele, and luck to you.