This Discover Cooking with California Olive Oil Recipe Contest submission comes from Curtis Schnell of We Olive Thousand Oaks. Nasturtium, which is Latin for “nose-twister,” is a common, very colorful ground cover available all summer long at grocers and farmers’ markets in hipster Silver Lake and throughout California. This evening salad starter combines peppery nasturtium leaves, sweet California summer fruits, and soft and buttery We Olive Lemon Oil with a bright citrus finish. If it’s off-season for nasturtiums, baby arugula provides the zip, capers provide the tang, and white pepper makes it pop.
- 1 larged unwaxed English cucumber, chilled (3/4 to 1 pound total)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 5 cups chilled honeydew melon (about 1 3/4 pounds with skin and seeds, or about 1/4 medium melon)
- 12 medium-to-large Chandler or Driscoll strawberries, chilled
- 12 nasturtium leaves
- 4 green shiso leaves (find these in the Asian or sushi section at the grocer)
- 3 Tablespoons We Olive Collection Lemon Olive Oil or Olivas de Oro Meyer Lemon Olive Oil
- sea salt to taste
- 4 purple or red shiso leaves for garnish, optional
1. Rinse and remove stem and flower ends from English cucumber, then slice thinly into 1/16” rounds with a slicer. Toss with 1 teaspoon sea salt in a colander and drain 30 minutes. While these are draining, proceed with preparing the other ingredients. Remove seeds and skin from chilled honeydew melon, cube into 1-inch cubes. Add to a large salad serving bowl.
Rinse strawberries and pat dry. Remove stem, hull and core, then cut strawberries in half. Add to bowl.
2. Rinse and pat dry nasturtium leaves (or arugula leaves). Snip off any long stems, and add to bowl. If you are using arugula, add the capers and white pepper. Rinse and pat dry the green shiso leaves, cut into small pieces with kitchen shears and add to bowl. When the cucumbers are well drained, add them to the bowl. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons We Olive Collection Lemon Oil over the ingredients in the bowl and toss lightly.Taste-test the saltiness of the olive oil and sprinkle on additional sea salt to taste if desired. Garnish with purple or red shiso leaves if desired. Serve chilled.
Curtis’ Notes: If nasturtium leaves are out of season or not available at your grocer, substitute 18 baby arugula leaves, 2 teaspoons of capers, and a dash of ground white pepper. Be sure to drain cucumber well and pat-dry salad ingredients, as any excess water will diffuse the brightness of the lemon olive oil. Salads are a challenge to pair with wines, but this one has no vinegar so it’s easier on the wine palate. I like the pairing with the 2011 Mill Road Viognier by Eberle Winery. Other excellent pairings are an off-dry Chenin Blanc or Reisling. Depending on what else you’re having for dinner, this makes 2 large servings or 4 small servings.
I like the viognier with this.
Nasturtiums have rich, saturated jewel-toned colors and are fast and easy to grow. They do best with a little neglect. The leaves and flowers are edible, with a peppery tang, and even the seed pods are used as a substitute for capers.