Herbs and spices of Provence
Latin: tropa eolum majus
Synonyms: cresson indien; cresson du Pérou; Mexican cress; Jesuits' cress
As you might guess from the synonyms, nasturtium originally came from Peru, brought to Europe by the Jesuits in the 16th century. Nasturtium is a climbing plant, with large round leaves and bright red, orange or yellow flowers in the form of a cowl or hood (capuchon in French). Both flowers and the leaves have a taste similar to watercress (cresson).
Nasturtium flowers are excellent on salads and green beans (and add a nice color), but have a strong pepper taste that can overpower more subtle herbs. The leaves can also be used, but only the young ones, and greater care must be taken for the strength of the flavor.
The buds and the seeds of the nasturtium can be pickled in vinegar when still tender and used like capers.
The leaves and flowers of the nasturtium are rich in vitamine C and sulphur.