Tuesday, August 9, 2011

harvest: nasturtium capers

whoa! sorry - it's that thing that happens in summer: my parents came for a week-long visit (which, for me, is an opportunity to thank them for being such great parents and selfless people by giving back with a week of treats: special meals, touring grounds at Bloedel reserve, a weekend in a cabin at the magical Lochaerie Resort on Lake Quinault - check it out, it's not what you'd expect from the word "resort" AND owners Kris and Tom are seriously delightful human beings!), I owe my first chapter of my dissertation in a couple weeks ... etc., etc.

Things are going on, I have some back-posting to do (expect a barrage - now!). To sum up, it seems to all be about "harvest" right now, which brings me to the first item: nasturtium capers.

I started my nasturtiums early, I guess. Though my next-door-neighbour's are still going strong, mine were overflowing from pots (that they shared with some pretty pink-flowered scented geraniums, which I'll have to bring in for winter) by mid-June, a tumble of blossoms all over the deck. We ate some in salad, but mostly I couldn't keep up with them - and that's okay, because I got a lot of pleasure out of watching the local hummingbirds (who are getting quite tame! One came and sat by this morning while I watered, not three feet away - note to self: we need a birdbath in this bird sanctuary) feed at every single blossom every summer night. One of them would spend about 30 minutes feeding, it was great to just sit and watch him dart from bloom to bloom.

But, as all things must, the blossoms faded and seedpods surfaced. Having seen a recipe for nasturtium capers in my library-lent copy of The Herbfarm Cookbook (long since recalled, sigh), I went online, and sure enough, The Splendid Table had adapted the recipe (not sure how, since for some reason I didn't write down the Herbfarm recipe) and posted it online. Bless you, NPR! I made the recipe exactly as written.

The results? SO delicious, really. For the longest time, I wasn't really wild about capers. I have recently, with my sudden newfound appreciation of other salty brined foods (aka olives! yum!) started to work on getting more capers into my diet, if only because I feel a truly well-rounded palette can find room to love most - if not all - flavours. I aspire to be open and able to enjoy all flavours I encounter, really, even though I was consciously working to acquire a palette for beets, mushrooms, and raw tomatoes in my 20s. Anyways, chatter aside, the material point is: we substituted these for "capers" in a salad recipe the other night and they were AMAZING. I am SO glad we have three small jars (and I have a basket of more seedpods on the table about to be turn into another half-jar or so) of these "capers" in the fridge to be used up by January of 2012.

I want to wait a little while, if I can; I love being able to enjoy a taste of summer as autumn deepens; in this land of fog and rain, it's such a nice reminder of these gorgeous days of sun, don't you think? So, if you are growing nasturtiums and the blossoms are fading, try this recipe. It's super easy and delicious. And if you didn't plant nasturtiums this year, I would totally recommend buying a 6-pack of nasturtium seedlings (usually about $1-$2 is all) next spring, tucking them into a pot or at the edge of a rock wall or over your driveway - nasturtiums will tumble and they are happiest when they have warm rocks or a warm deck to luxuriate on - and give them a go next year! For a cheap little annual plant, they really give a lot back in terms of beautiful bright colour, nectar for birds, and edible flowers and seeds for you!


Anonymous said...

HI - I just found your great blog and I am posting 2 comments already! I love this harvesting - you can also make pesto out of the nasturtium leaves as you would a regular pesto.
Thanks for the read,

fleur_delicious said...

oooh, I haven't tried that one - and I still have one little plant left. Maybe I'll do that before I tear the little bugger out. It sounds so lovely, doesn't it? Nasturtium pesto? Grace, you're a genius - so much help in two little comments. Hope you'll keep checking back from time to time and keep filling me in with helpful tips and details like this!

commiskaze said...

Heh totally making these today, quite a coincidence I stumbled on your blog. I havent tried making Nasturium pesto, but I feel that if you did you would really have to figure out how to balance out the bitterness of the leaves. I have a few recipes on my blog using Nasturiums. However I have made a Stinging Nettle, Ramp, Walnut pesto using foraged ingrediants... anything is possible.