Nasturtium Pesto


Nasturtium Pesto

  • Servings: Variable
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Nasturtium pesto


  • A good bowlful/bagful of nasturtium leaves – or whatever other leaves you have on hand e.g. rocket, spinach
  • A handful of grated cheese – cheddar works well, especially if it’s mature (leave out for a vegan or paleo version)
  • A handful of toasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly sliced
  • ½ – 1c olive oil
  • Pinch of salt


Harvest your leaves and give them a wash to get rid of any dirt or insects. Nasturtium leaves shrug off water, so just pat them dry as best you can – they don’t have to be perfect.

The flowers are very pretty too and I often add them to salads, along with the leaves. I haven’t tried adding them to pesto, but you could if you like.

Now fill your blender/grinder with some leaves to start off with – you’ll probably need to work in batches, which luckily each process very quickly. You can add your garlic at this stage too, as it’s good to get it thoroughly mixed in.

Pour in a dash of olive oil, cover then switch on your grinder. Within a few seconds, you’ll have a coarse mixture, with the leaves mostly ground down.

Add some more leaves, another dash of olive oil and grind again. Repeat until you’ve used up all the leaves, using oil to help the process. You may need to use a spoon or knife to push down the last few leaves into the pesto, so they don’t just fly around on top.

Once all the leaves are roughly ground up, add some cheese, sunflower seeds and salt (and probably a bit more oil). Grind it all up again until everything is incorporated, adding more oil, a dash at a time, if it starts sticking (you’ll hear the motor whirring, trying to turn).

Now taste and decide if you want to add more cheese, seeds, garlic and/or salt, and if so, go ahead.

Your final version can be as rough or smooth as you like – just keep grinding until you reach the consistency you like. Personally I like mine a little grainy.

When you’re happy, transfer the pesto into a clean jar, and push it down as best you can to get rid of any air pockets. Then smooth the top, and pour over a thin layer of olive oil to cover it. Any surfaces that aren’t covered will start going brown within a couple of days, which still tastes fine but doesn’t look as good. Tightly close the lid once you’re done.

Store the bottle in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, using a few spoonfuls at a time as you need it.

Serve it exactly as you would traditional basil pesto, e.g.

  • In pasta or rice dishes
  • On hot veggies
  • On steak or a burger
  • On chicken
  • On pizza
  • As part of a topping on toast or pastry snacks
  • In savoury scones or bread
  • With any form of egg – scrambled, boiled, omelette, etc
  • On anything with cheese
  • In salad dressing
  • As a dip (I like it mixed with yoghurt or cream cheese)
  • Etc, etc


© Alexandra Lawrence and Inspired Nourishment, 2016