Saffron Risotto with Nasturtium Pesto

risottoThis is a brilliant midweek supper – the risotto is oven baked, so no standing over a hot stove stirring a pot. If you have nasturtiums in your garden, get picking! These colourful edible flowers are great for adding colour and a peppery watercress flavour to dishes.

The easy to grow nasturtium is an annual flowering plant whose edible leaves and orange, red and yellow petals have a flavour that is similar to watercress. The  buds and seeds, picked when soft and pickled in vinegar, can be used as a substitute for capers. Nutritionally, they have significant quantities of Vitamin C and iron and they deter insects if you plant them alongside veggies. Shredded, the leaves can be used as a garnish or in a stir fry. The flowers make a delightfully pretty addition to any salad (although I usually have to gently prompt my guests to eat them, otherwise they tend to get left on the side of the plate!).

Saffron Risotto with Nasturtium Pesto

2 cups nasturtium (leaves)
12 cup nasturtium (thinly sliced, stems)
12 cup toasted pine nuts
4 cloves garlic
1 cup olive oil
14 cup freshly grated parmesan (cheese)METHOD

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil; prepare an ice-water bath and set aside. Add nasturtium leaves to boiling water; cook for 10 seconds. Drain and transfer to ice-water bath until cool. Drain and set aside.
  • Place leaves, pine nuts, garlic, and oil in the jar of a blender; blend until smooth. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and fold in stems and cheese.

RISOTTO serves 6

Tbsp olive oil

Onion, chopped

Large pinch saffron threads

380g arborio rice

125ml white wine

1.25 litres chicken stock

30g grated parmesan

20g butter



  • Preheat oven to 200°C. Heat the oil in a large flameproof, ovenproof casserole dish over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until soft.
  • Add the rice and saffron and stir to coat. Add the wine and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the wine evaporates. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Use a fork to separate the grains.
  • Stir in the parmesan and butter. Set aside, covered, for 10 minutes. Season, top with the nasturtium pesto and serve.