hearthstrung

nasturtium capers

A couple weeks ago I read something in passing about making capers with seedpods other than those of the caper bush (Capparis spinosa). The suggestion was nasturtium buds: a similar size, with a nice crunch and a slow, fizzling, aromatic spiciness.

Last week, everywhere I walked in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Point Richmond, I stumbled across nasturtiums growing untended; the ‘weeds’ of the bay area. I found them growing up telephone poles, seeping through garden fences, carpeting the banks of ditches and the forest floor. Literally, everywhere.

A nice problem to have if you ask me.

Foremost in my mind, then, was to harvest some buds and pickle them into delicious capers. Nasturtiums with everything! This was an excitement for home.

Let it be noted, then, that as soon as I arrived, Dad showed me the two beautiful jars of nasturtium pickles he’d casually thought to make from the plants he’d been growing on the deck. Maybe there’s a gene for that impulse or something.

In any case, they are, in a word, delicious. Ranging in colour from pale yellow to cream to café au lait, and in size from a split pea to a large chickpea, they cradle a subtle little range of appearance and spiciness; all are wondrously textural, and every one is good to eat.

Today I decided to make a salad. Surprising, I know.

It has three ingredients: nasturtium capers, sliced celery, chopped tamari almonds.

It’s also self-dressing – the vinegar from the capers mixes with some of the tamari coating to make a shockingly good flavour punch that tastes like salt & vinegar chips on crack. Umami, bitter, herbaceous, slightly spicy, tinged with sweetness. What more could you ask for?

A dressing that makes itself, of course.

There was mist over the bay this morning. It was right for this simple and unlikely little salad. I enjoyed it at the windows with a pot of raspberry leaf tea. My friend Shizue in Point Richmond drinks tea multiple times a day and has been since she was young; she inspired me to make it part of my daily habit too. So far it has been wonderful.

Crunchy (in three different ways!), salty, nutty, fibrous, vegetal. Three roles and a whole lotta character.

Be careful of this guy in anything but small batches.

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This entry was published on Friday, June 1, 2012 at 9:14 pm. It’s filed under day-to-day eats, experiments, food, recipes, travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “nasturtium capers

  1. Pingback: almond banana muffins « hearthstrung

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