People of a certain vintage will probably recall from their early school days the story of the Nasturtiums Who Grew Too Big for Their Boots. As I look out at our back garden it certainly resonates. From a couple of stray plants in the front garden three or four years ago, the nasturtiums have prolifically spread and at this time of the year have taken control of both back and front gardens – a riot of orange and yellow and red interspersed between the large green leaves.
They are looking, I think, enviously at the house and maybe next year will make the leap to take that on as well….perhaps, as in the story, the yellow and orange flowers cascading over the roof will look as if the place is on fire and the Fire Brigade will attend!
Anyway, faced with such abundance I have been using the leaves and flowers in salads where their peppery flavours and delightful colour add something special to lift a simple dish to some greater heights. And I have, in the past, pickled the flower buds as a substitute for capers. But with all their vigour, all the growth, all the leaves and flowers, I have been searching for some other uses. I have looked around but not many recipes are on offer. So I decided to make a tart and use some of the leaves and flowers, and this is the result.
Mediterranean Vegetable Tart with Parmesan and Nasturtiums
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 leek, white only, thinly sliced
- 1 red capsicum, seeded, sliced and chopped
- 1 zucchini, chopped (unpeeled)
- 2 cloves of garlic crushed
- 20 or so nasturtium leaves, washed, sliced and chopped
- Handful of nasturtium flowers
- Parmesan cheese grated or shaved
- Three eggs, beaten, with 300ml thickened cream
- Short crust pastry – make your own, or for this I used a sheet and a half of Pampas
- Salt and pepper (although the parmesan will provide salt and the nasturtium leaves peppery notes; so season to taste)
- Fry leek in oil until soft but not coloured
- Add garlic and cook for about a minute more until the aroma of the garlic shines through
- Add capsicum and cook for about two minutes until starts to soften
- Add zucchini and cook for two minutes more
- Add sliced and chopped nasturtium leaves, stir through until wilted; season to taste
- Take off heat and set aside
- Meanwhile oil a tart dish and mould the pastry into it; line with baking paper and add baking weights or dry beans or rice and blind bake for about 8 minutes at 150 degrees. Remove baking paper and weights and bake for about two minutes more.
- Remove from oven, fill pastry case with vegetable mix, sprinkle over quarter cup of grated parmesan, pour over egg and cream mixture, top with a little more parmesan and then pile the flowers on top.
- Return to oven at 150 degrees for about thirty minutes until golden and set.
And there it is….another use for nasturtiums….
If you have any other nasturtium recipes, I would love to hear from you….