I worked for a professional chef years ago who used fresh flowers from her garden as garnishes for her catering. This made an impression on me, and as soon as I had stopped traveling long enough to have a garden, I set out to grow my own edible flowers. I’ve had the most luck with nasturtiums and over the years, I’ve used the varying shades of yellow, orange, and red blossoms at countless events to jazz up salads and hors d’oeuvres.
Over time I became aware that you could also use the spicy blossoms to make vinegar (and dressing) and I may have come across a nasturtium-carrot soup, but other than that I thought their culinary talents were limited to the role of edible garnish. Now that I have four gargantuan and very prolific plants in my garden, I’ve been struggling to use even half of the blossoms before they fade.
A little research has turned up some great ideas for cooking with these beautiful flowers. Apparently the entire plant is edible, so you can use the beautifully-shaped leaves as a somewhat less spicy addition to a mix greens salad. The leaves and the blossoms can be chopped up and tossed with pasta salad, or you can get more creative like in this recipe for Citrus, Dates and Nasturtiums from My Halal Kitchen.com.
Nasturtium pesto, nasturtium mayonnaise, and nasturtium butter can be spread on sandwiches, seafood, grains, rice, and veggies. Apparently the dried seeds were ground and used as a replacement for pepper during World War II. You can also combine the nasturtium ‘pepper’ with salt and herbs for a seasoning mix.
Some of the most creative uses I’ve seen are stuffed nasturtiums with cream cheese, nuts, scallions, and garlic; apple mint nasturtium jelly for grilled lamb chops; and Manresa chef David Kinch’s nasturtium risotto on Martha Stewart.com.
More good news is that even if I can’t use up all the blossoms in my cooking, the plants are also great garden companions to veggies like tomatoes and cucumbers because they deter pests.
My experience with nasturtiums point to two of the reasons I love being a chef: I get inspired everytime I work with another chef and just a little curiousity always leads to a lot of culinary education.
Browse Culinary Arts Schools & Colleges
- Art of Cooking (D)
- Culinary Management (BS)
- Program areas include Culinary Arts, Culinary Management, and more
- Students are taught cooking styles from around the globe, including Classical European, Asian, and Latin cuisine
- Curriculum designed to prepare students for a career as a chef, with course topics that include Culinary Techniques, Management by Menu, and Nutrition
- Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef
- Flexible Scheduling
- Financial Aid
- Transferable Credits
- Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
- An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
- 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
- Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
- Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
- Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
- Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
- Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
- Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
- Flexible Scheduling
- Financial Aid