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Nasturtium leaves refers to a genus of roughly 80 species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants in the genus Tropaeolum . They have showy, often intensely bright flowers , and rounded, peltate (shield-shaped) leaves with the petiole in the center. Nasturtiums are flowering plants that are native to South America. When British explorers returned home from the New World carrying these plants, among numerous other goodies, the English eagerly adopted the nasturtium and began growing it for color. They soon found that it also made a tasty food.
Nasturtium leaves are edible, and like the flowers, they have a peppery taste. Nasturtiums are easy to love because they're easy to grow. And once they start blooming, they dazzle you with saucer-shaped leaves and brilliant flowers until the first frost zaps them in the fall. So, for a garnish or salad ingredient that combines the flavor of watercress with the hues of the rainbow, try nasturtiums. They can grace special sandwiches, dips and spreads, and bowls of greens. And if you really want to liven things up, float a few blossoms in a punch bowl.
Chopped Nasturtium leaves- Chop or slice leaves into small pieces using a sharp knife. Use them as you would use green onions or garlic, noting that it is stronger than the former but milder than the latter.
Nasturtium leaves paste- Grind the chopped leaves in a grinder to get a garlic paste. You may add salt, green chillies and other spices to enhance the flavor.
Shredded nasturtium leaves
the leaves can be shredded coarsely in a shredded or manually, using a sharp knife. Cut the leaves in thin slices and then break up the pieces in shreds using fingers. They can be used as garnish on salads or in stir frys.
How to select
Try to pick out sturdy crisp stalks which do not appear wilted, and you should also check for mold and mildew on the nasturtium leaves. Pick them up from the refrigerated section. If you pick your own nasturtium leaves, go for the fresh, young leaves in the early spring before the plant flowers and turns bitter.Culinary uses
· The Nasturtium leaves and flower has most often been consumed, making for an especially ornamental salad ingredient; it has a slightly peppery taste reminiscent of watercress, and is also used in stir fry.
· The leaves can be ground into a paste with chilies and salt to impart a mild peppery flavor to the dish.
· Nasturtium leaves risotto and pesto can also be prepared.
· They can be served steamed, fried and raw-the cooked version is the least bitter and the most acceptable to the North American palate.
· They can also be made into soups and stews.How to store
The green nasturtium leaves can be stored under refrigeration for three to five days before being used.Health benefits
· Nasturtium leaves are nutritious, rich in vitamins and useful for relieving many liver, gallbladder and kidney problems.
· They also improve digestion.
· The flowers and leaves of nasturtium are more than just tangy-they contain a strong antibiotic that is similar in many ways to the active compounds found in garlic.