So, that mystery condiment from Thanksgiving. What was it?
It all started last summer, when I nibbled on some fresh nasturtium seeds. I love nasturtiums, because they’re beautiful, more or less self-seeding, and completely edible. The flowers are orchid-like in their elegance, and have a wonderful peppery note that is even stronger in the lily pad-looking leaves, where dewdrops bead like pearls. The leaves make a wonderful addition to pestos, salads, soups, and everything else. The flowers are a choice garnish. And the seeds? Grated through a microplane, they make for a superb substitute for wasabi. I use them whenever possible with high-grade fish. (Not that we can get it easily, but whatever).
But in the off-season, I wanted to use them for more. So I gathered up every seed I could find (they come in lovely triplets, tucked under the big leaves) and pickled them exactly as I would cornichons (vinegar, a pinch of sugar, mustard and coriander seeds) for a month or so. They were good whole–like sharp, mustardy pickles–but they weren’t quite what I wanted. So I puréed them hard for quite a while in the food processor until they attained a suitable smoothity. And I used them just like that to complement the rich and slightly smoky pâté. Pickle and mustard in one. You heard it here first.
I’m the first person to use distantly-sourced ingredients where no local analog can be found, but this particular example is a trade up, if anything.