Foraging for Flavors: Making Dinner from Invasive Plant Species
Garlic mustard may be an invasive plant species, but it's also edible! It smells like garlic when crushed, and makes a tasty pesto. Unfortunately, it also spreads an average of 20 feet a year, chokes out native plant species, and can limit the seed germination of other plants.
You'll most likely be able to find it in a local park, hiking trail, or even on your own property. The tiny seeds can be easily transported or blown around by vehicles. When collecting garlic mustard for making pesto, be very careful not to inadvertently track the seeds anywhere!
GARLIC MUSTARD PESTO
-3 cups garlic mustard leaves, washed and packed tightly
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 cup toasted walnuts or almonds
-1 cup olive oil
-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese*
-Salt and pepper to taste
-Red pepper flakes to taste
*Eliminate the parmesan cheese for a vegan recipe. You could try nutritional yeast as a substitute, or even pine nuts!
1) Pulse garlic mustard leaves, garlic, and nuts in a food processor until finely chopped.
2) Very slowly add the olive oil and pulse until combined and smooth.
3) Add the grated cheese (or substitute, if making a vegan recipe) and pulse again until
4) Season to taste with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
Serve with pasta, bread, or even in a sandwich.
Recipe from Six Rivers Land Conservancy (https://www.sixriversrlc.org/)
Interested in learning more about foraging and identifying which wild plants are edible? Check out Will Forage For Food, a community of people based in southern Michigan who are interested in living from the land and passing on traditional knowledge - they offer events, classes, and activities throughout the Great Lakes region (http://willforageforfood.com/index.php/about/)
And if you're interested in environmental stewardship, you and/or your group can help remove invasive species on protected lands and participate in other stewardship activities - contact Six Rivers Land Conservancy and inquire about Stewardship Programs - https://www.sixriversrlc.org/stewardship-program/
A local artist even makes makes paper from invasive species like garlic mustard!
"The Invasive Paper Project addresses invasive plants not as things to be cast-off, but rather as potential assets to our communities if treated carefully. While making paper in workshop form, we explore this idea of "invasive" together, finding new solutions for unwanted plants and seeking connections between our horticultural and anthropological languages. Participants make their own paper and generate new ideas about how to treat our landscapes and neighbors more holistically. We’re asking the deeper questions of what “invasive” means when applied to people, to neighborhoods, and to communities." -
Happy mustard pulling!