Garlic Mustard Pesto

A nutrient-rich invasive!

Garlic Mustard Pesto

This recipe is super simple! You will need:

  • A food processor or blender

  • 50g garlic mustard greens

  • 1 cup olive oil

  • 1 cup sunflower seeds

  • 1 cup nutritional yeast

  • 2 tbsp honey

  • 1-2 cloves garlic (to taste)

  • Salt/pepper (to taste)

  • Optional: other herbs for taste (basil, oregano, dandelion, nettle etc)

  1. Process and wash your garlic mustard greens

  2. Add oil, sunflower seeds, and nutritional yeast, and garlic to food processor and pulse

  3. Add garlic mustard greens and optional herbs and pulse

  4. Add honey, salt, pepper and pulse

*sometimes this can still taste a bit bitter depending on your palette. A way to offset the bitterness is to add a bit of apple cider vinegar or a bit more honey

This is one of my favourite plants to work with in the kitchen because it is an easy plant to learn to identify, and you can use it in so many different ways.

Garlic Mustard, or Alliaria petiolata, is a biennial plant in the mustard (Brassicaceae) family. Originally from Europe and Asia, it was brought to North America for culinary uses. As a fairly aggressive plant, it was able to quickly establish itself as an invasive in this part of the world.

Garlic Mustard is an allelopathic plant, meaning that it undergoes a biochemical process that inhibits the growth of surrounding plants,  and once established can crowd out native wildflowers. Finding an effective way to prevent the spread of Garlic Mustard is crucial to local biodiversity.

One of the best ways to remove Garlic Mustard is by hand, which can be extremely tedious work. But, as long as the location that you remove it from is safe, you can actually use every part of the plant in your cooking! So we can think of it as harvesting food instead of doing grunt work. For extra motivation, Garlic Mustard is highly nutritious! It contains Vitamin A; B-Carotene; Vitamin E; Vitamin C; Calcium; Iron; Zinc; and Manganese.

There are many ways to prepare this plant, and you can use every part of it, from root to seed, in your cooking. I have found that one of the most beloved-by-all recipes is Garlic Mustard Pesto! This recipe utilizes the leaves of the first year growth (the second year leaves are much more bitter). For the best results, make sure to harvest in early spring before the flavour gets too bitter in the warmer months.

*As always, make sure that you harvest wisely and carefully, ensuring proper identification and being aware of potential environmental toxins.