Nanohana: The Healthy Promise Of Spring

A pleasantly bitter bouquet of fresh leafy greens

By Kirsty Kawano
March 9, 2018
Food & Drink, In Season

Quick and easy rapeseed recipes to help you shed winter toxins and wake your body to the spring.

Nanohana (なのはな、菜の花) is a healthy Japanese vegetable perhaps more correctly known as nabana (なばな、菜花), or rapeseed. It is warmly welcomed in late winter as a harbinger of spring. You can find nanohana in the supermarket from December through March, wrapped in small bunches. The name literally means “the flowers of a leafy vegetable,” and that is what you eat – the top 15 centimeters of the plant – stalks, leaves and flower buds included.

Like many other vegetables of early springtime, the characteristic flavor of nanohana is a pleasing bitterness. It is said to come from properties like polyphenols and alkaloids, which help remove toxins that have accumulated in our bodies during the winter. Rapeseed is high in vitamins C, B1 and B2, and minerals such as folic acid, calcium and iron. It can help build your body’s resistance and fend off colds and anemia. Nanohana is also high in the antioxidant beta-carotene. Sauteing it in oil boosts the absorbency of that mineral, making nanohana a great addition to a peperoncino pasta or another oil-based spaghetti sauce.

As the stalks age and the flowers start to bloom, the bitterness strengthens, so use the recipes below to cook it up good and fast.

Recipe 1: Nanohana in a mustard, soy sauce


  • Nanohana one bunch (about 100 grams)
  • Soy sauce 1 tablespoon
  • Mustard 1/2 teaspoon

You can use whatever kind of mustard you like. Seeded mustard or the Japanese karashi type are both good.


  1. Slice dried ends off the nanohana and wash it. Align the ends of the stalks and place them standing into a pan of lightly salted boiling water about five centimeters deep. Cook like this for half a minute, then push all of the greens into the water to cook for another half minute.
  2. Remove from the pot and place into a bowl of clean, cool water for one minute. Take the nanohana out of the bowl and squeeze it gently to expel water.
  3. Cut the stalks into lengths of about three centimeters.
  4. Make the sauce by blending the soy sauce with the mustard in a serving bowl.
  5. Add the nanohana to the bowl and mix to coat it in the sauce. Ready to serve.

You can also add cooked chicken meat or boiled, thin-cut pork to the dish as desired.

Recipe 2: Nanohana and bacon saute


  • Nanohana one bunch
  • Bacon 100 grams (about 5 slices)
  • Garlic 1 clove
  • Olive oil 1 tablespoon


  1. Boil nanohana as described in the recipe above and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Thinly slice the garlic and cut the bacon into two-centimeter lengths.
  3. Saute the garlic and the bacon in the olive oil on medium heat for about two minutes.
  4. Add the nanohana and saute a further three minutes, until the bacon browns.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.

Voila! Enjoy the taste of spring.