Happy summer, folks! The light is lingering late into the evening, and there’s produce aplenty at the market. This is the time for easy dinners, big salads and rosé, and I’m all the more energized about the season after visiting my family in Michigan—there is no summer quite like a Michigan summer. My parents have a beautiful backyard and a deck that’s perfect for lingering, where you can draw out meals for as many hours as is reasonable, which in my mind is many. We ate salads and spring toasts, homemade sushi and paella, this almond cake and Yossy’s rhubarb rye upside-down cake—and much more, always lingering.
While I was at my parents’ house, my mom mentioned that her nasturtium plant had a few flowers that someone could throw on a salad if so inclined. Since I learned my nasturtium-plant eating from my pal Kimberley, I knew only what she taught me, which is that you can eat it all—flowers, leaves, a bit of stem if it gets in the bowl. I asked before I picked, of course, but I did surprise the table a bit with the plant-on-a-platter at the dinner table. Nasturtium leaves are peppery and bright, and, along with making for a lovely presentation, the flowers have a little sweetness.
I don’t know what percentage of the population this might apply to, but if you have a nasturtium plant that you just can’t keep in check, this is just the recipe for you! Even if you have a more modestly, prettily producing nasturtium plant, this makes a nice little salad for two. Throw in some spinach or arugula if you’d like to take it further. And even if neither situation applies to you, the dressing is a simple gem that would be good on anything.
Even though a pretty photo of this recipe graces the cover of Kimberley’s cookbook, without a nasturtium plant at my disposal, I hadn’t really thought about it since the summer I assisted her with the burgeoning book project, three (!) summers ago. And now I really want a nasturtium plant. What’s better than something cute, abundant and good for salad? Not much, if you ask me.
Adapted from Kimberley Hasselbrink’s Vibrant Food
If you don’t have a nasturtium plant at your disposal, substitute arugula, watercress or spinach. Goat cheese would stand in well here, too, if you prefer it to blue and feta.
Serves 2 to 4
1 1/2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallot
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
4 cups firmly packed nasturtium leaves
2 small pluots or apricots, or 4 dates, pitted and sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese or feta
Petals from 4 or 5 nasturtium flowers
To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl or jar, whisk together the vinegar, shallot, honey and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Toss the nasturtium leaves with the vinaigrette, then arrange on a platter or in a serving bowl. Top with the sunflower seeds, fruit slices, cheese and nasturtium petals.