I love planting nasturtiums in my flower box. They start easily from seed, and quickly billow up and spill over over the sides of the box, trailing in a colorful show of flowery energy. Their leaves are shaped like little lily pads, lifting their faces to the sun. I always plant a mix of colors, and the plants flower generously all summer long.
They are so pretty, in fact, that I almost forget that I also love to eat them. Edible flowers always seem like a touch of magic, as if a faerie built my salad with woodland plants. They remind me to take a moment to look at my food.
They are tasty, too. The tender green leaves taste lemony, with an herbal tartness that makes them a fabulous addition to salads, even soups. The flowers themselves have a similar, if milder tanginess.
I’ve used them as my go-to cake decoration, and the blooms can just be pressed into the frosting on the sides and top of a cake for an all-natural finish. Much easier than mixing up a bunch of colored frosting and piping flowers!
So today, with the first basil ready to trim and garlic chives multiplying in the garden, I decided to make a little pesto from the leaves, for a lemon-basil flavored noodle dish. I had a couple of packages of these gorgeous Forbidden Black Rice Ramen Noodles, and the thought of the brilliant blooms against the striking noodles was too exciting.
The Lotus Foods brand black rice ramen is gluten free, and whole grain, which makes it just my kind of new product. I first tried the ramen a few weeks ago during the whole grains sampling day, and loved it.
So, I figured that a simple pesto of the nasturtium leaves, basil and garlic chives would be delicious, quick and easy. So I threw them in the processor while the noodles cooked. It was that fast.
The whole point being that a light, not too oily sauce would show off the unique flavor of the flowers, and the nutty tasting noodles.
It worked out well. My flowery lunch added a just a hint of magic to my day!
Black Ramen in Basil-Nasturtium Leaf Pesto with Garlic Chives
Of course, this would be good with other noodles, from cellophane to spaghetti. For a more substantial main, I would add cubed tofu or some pine nuts.
2 2.8 ounce packages black rice ramen
1/2 cup fresh basil
6 large nasturtium leaves
2 tablespoons chopped garlic chives
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 nasturtium flowers, leaves, and chives for garnish
Put on a big pot of water to cook the noodles. In a food processor, combine the basil, nasturtium and garlic chives, and process to mince. Add the oil and salt and process until smooth.
Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain well. Toss the noodles with the pesto and garnish with flowers and more leaves and chives.