Nasturtium Leaf Pesto & Celeriac Fettuccine

Almost three years ago I had to remove a tree from the back garden of our house. It was an extremely hard decision since I really hate the idea of cutting down trees but the garden consisted of one giant tree which was so large, absolutely nothing could grow beneath its shade, in root bound soil. When the tree started damaging plumbing pipes and pavers I had to make the tough decision to pull it down. I cried the day the tree fellers came but three years later I think it was the best decision I’ve made for this house. We now have a garden touched by sunlight. Three smaller trees are growing and an abundance of plants have transformed this space into a home for bees, birds, butterflies and all sorts of grubs (some good, some I’m not such a fan of).
Since the project of creating this garden was so important to me and the space itself was not very big, I felt pressured to make very strategic decisions about what I’d grow. Initially I wanted as many native flowers and plants as I could fit and a variety of ornamental plants to make the space a little green haven. I decided there wasn’t space for edibles.
Signor Pot came along to the nursery with me many a time and each time looked longingly at the herbs and said “why don’t you grow this?” with such excitement, I eventually caved and set aside a little corner of the garden for herbs. Again it was one of the best decisions I ever made (or Signor Pot made for me) since every week we pick and use the herbs in our cooking.
Once Signor Pot found out that you can eat nasturtium flowers and leaves he kept asking me to grow them in the garden but being the stubborn lady that I am, I refused many a time.
On one of my softer days I caved and planted some nasturtium seeds for him and they took off like crazy. I’ve been decorating cakes with the flowers ever since. The leaves, however, have been sadly neglected by Signor Pot, who I think used about three in a dish once upon a time. Since I have leaves for Africa, I decided it was time to make something savoury that would use that pepperiness to perfection. I think I’ve created the simplest, most peppery, nutty, warm & earthy pesto for all of you, who like me, just have wayyyyy too much nasturtium.
Nasturtium Pesto
Makes 1/2 cup
• 50g Nasturtium Leaves
• 40g Pistachios
• 23g Grated Parmesan
• 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
• 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1 Pinch Salt (or to taste)
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Toast pistachios on a roasting tray for 5-10 minutes, checking & turning frequently to make sure they don’t burn. Set aside and allow to cool.
In a small food processor blitz the nuts to a fine paste. Add leaves and pulse to combine, then blitz to a fine paste. Add parmesan and blitz to incorporate. Add a pinch of salt and 2 Tbsp lemon juice and blitz.
With the machine running, slowly add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to loosen the mixture. Taste and season with a little more salt if necessary.
This pesto can be used in a variety of ways. I think it would be particularly yum on grilled portobello mushrooms and on fresh home made pasta of course.
I made a celeriac fettuccine as a light alternative to regular pasta. Celeriac has to be the most sinister looking root vegetable. It looks a little like Frankensteins heart, the ultimate halloween decoration, i think. It is surprisingly good as a vegetable substitute for pasta if thinly shaved and cooked al dente. Definitely give it a go.
Celeriac Fettuccine w. Nasturtium Pesto
• 1/2 cup nasturtium pesto
• 1 large celeriac
Wash and remove all the knobbly bits and skin of the celeriac. Thinly slice (2mm thick) the peeled celeriac on a mandolin. Place slices in water and the juice of 1 lemon. The slices will brown if exposed to the air too long. Cut the slices into 1.5cm wide strips.
When ready to eat, boil the fettuccine for 2 minutes (or until tender, make sure not to overdo it, you want a little bite).
Drain and toss immediately with pesto, to coat.
Plate the celeriac fettuccine and top with grated parmesan, a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, a grind of pepper and a couple of pistachios. You can use some tiny nasturtium leaves to garnish too if you like.
Now the nasturtium plant can grow as much as it wants and I won’t be worried because I know how to harness that tasty leaf.
Hope you enjoy it too.

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