Disco Sucks

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.

6 comments to Disco Sucks

  • Good on you for finding a use for something so tasty! I took a class in college about edible and useful plants, so I knew about nasturtium flowers but the prof didn’t teach us about the seeds. Bravo!

  • Peter

    Next time I’ll add some fresh ones into the mix for a brighter green and a more complex sharpness.

  • pam

    I had no idea! Of course my nasturtiums barely even produce a flower or two. I’m not sure what gardening conditions are necessary, but whatever they are, I don’t have them.

  • I heard they make good fake capers.
    I tried growing nasturtiums. Death. I’ll try again.
    Nice work!

  • Peter

    Pam: They like full sun. I plant them at the end of my garden beds so they spill out into the paths.

    CC: I never understood that; they don’t taste at all like capers. Beyond a slight physical resemblance, I see no similarity. What they taste like is a mustardy/wasabi kind of thing. So that’s what I do with them.

    Plus, in your climate, you could grow REAL capers.

  • This year all of my nasturtiums failed miserably. I planted tons just to pickle the seeds. Maybe next year…then I’ll steal this idea.

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

Rage Against The Vitrine

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