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Oil-Cured Fromage Blanc-Stuffed Nasturtium Leaves to Soothe the Soul


The world has gone completely mad. Seriously. It has. Between going into our third month of being sheltered in place and the civil unrest due to protests against institutionalized and rampant racism, I needed a little love last night. I walked in the door from work and grabbed Jake for an evening walk. We barely made it to the end of our driveway before I burst into tears, lamenting the world into which we were releasing our brand-new adult; R's 18th birthday was the day before.

As usual, Jake listened to me blubber, he talked, then he listened some more...and I calmed down while we walked around the neighborhood and strategized about how to talk to the boys over dinner about the state of our country. We wanted to convey that they have a voice - as well as an obligation to be agents of change and goodness - but that they can't cross the line into being wrong themselves. We asked if they knew the difference between protestors and looters. They looked at us as if we had three heads, then they succinctly defined the two. Great.

I shared a few protest stories of my own. I did live in Berkeley for five years, after all, and protesting is part of the culture at Cal! Often, I felt, that we were protesting just to protest, not because we felt particularly passionate about a cause. So, we talked to the boys about choosing their protests carefully. And we cautioned them about reading the crowds and looking for red flags if the mood were turning from peaceful to destructive and, ultimately, illegal.

Parenting is tough and emotionally draining at times. I'll leave it at that and move on to the recipe I'm sharing today.


Back in April, my friend and culinary maven Jenn Erickson of Jennuine posted photos of her nasturtium experiment to social media. Her caption - and photos - have been haunting me ever since: "The blanched leaves were filled with #chevre and cured in olive oil with lemon zest and black peppercorns overnight. We enjoyed them for brunch on garlic toast points. Absolutely blissful!! #foraging #edibleflowers #breakfast #brunch #appetizer" Her recipe appears on her blog - Goat Cheese Cigarillos with Olive-Oil Cured Nasturium Leaves. Jenn and I have been friends since college, but I don't think we ever protested together. But we did cook and eat together. Many times.

So, when she messaged me and asked if I wanted to come over and pick some elderflowers, I didn't hesitate. And, as D and I were getting ready to leave, she asked if I wanted any nasturtium flowers or leaves. Ummm...yes! We grabbed just a few and I knew I wanted to attempt my version of her cigarillos with what I had on-hand which was fromage blanc instead of chevre.

Ingredients serves 4

  • 6 to 8 nasturtium leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons nasturtium petals
  • 1/3 cups fromage blanc (feel free to substitute cream cheese or any other spreadable cheese you like)
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • lemon zest or curls
  • olive oil, as needed
  • water
  • Also needed: toasted bread for serving


Procedure

Destem your nasturium leaves. Fill a saucepan with water and heat until it is beginning to steam. Quickly plunge one leaf at a time into the water. I use tongs to hold the leaf, release it so it float flat on top, then I grab it again with the tongs and place it flat on a plate. Repeat until all of the leaves are blanched.


Place the fromage blanc, petals, and lemon juice in a small mixing bowl. Add a few grinds of salt and pepper. Then use a spoon to combine the ingredients.


Place a leaf on your workspace or cutting board. Add 1 to 2 T filling to the leaf. And roll into a tight cylinder.


Place the rolled leaves into a container and pour enough olive oil over them to be mostly submerged. Add your lemon zest or curls. Cover and refrigerate. Leave the rolls to cure overnight.

Before serving remove them from the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature. 


Slice the rolls in half and serve them on toasted bread. I used some homemade sourdough rye. Garnish with lemon curls and reserve the oil for another use.

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