Spring Weed Queen’s Garlic Mustard Pesto (vegan)

So begins my journey of turning an “invasive weed” into a most delicious pesto that goes great on anything you’d put pesto on!

I have been doing my fair share of yard and field foraging lately, and the past couple of weeks these stalks have been popping up in the yard. After a very short web search, I discovered that they are an edible green that was brought over from Europe as a food source, but on this continent it has become an invasive species. It even emits certain chemicals into the soil that it lives in that make it inhospitable to most other plants. Yet, in moderation, this plant is totally edible – even the root (please do your own research before consuming any wild plant, even if edible, for possible side effects or contraindications). It has a slightly, well, garlicky taste. I think that is much easier on the palate than dandelion greens, who in my yard don’t grow too far away.

Garlic Mustard Leaves and Flowers

The idea when harvesting Garlic Mustard is to take up the whole plant. If you don’t, eventually you’ll have quite the, um… crop on your hands. It’s plentiful and invasive: rip it out by the root.

Garlic Mustard Taproot

I’m not using the roots for anything yet – they are just drying. I’ll probably accumulate them en masse slowly, and then make something later. Perhaps a tea, or a root granola bar. We’ll see.

Garlic mustard leaves and flowers, closeup

The plant has these beautiful little white flowers that go into the recipe just the same as the leaves, which are picked off the main stems (which go into my compost heap).

Garlic mustard leaves and flowers, closeup

I admit that I often do NOT wash greens or produce (just like if I were to eat it right in the garden), especially if there is no dirt on. These, though, especially being ripped out by the root, need a good washing. And there is something about how a little bit of water can “freshen” some vegetables. Others, though, too much washing can wilt them. In this case, the leaves are pretty hardy, but you can see a bit of wilting.

Garlic Mustard Leaves, after washing

And because Pesto is an oil-base sauce with no water added, it’s best to get all of the water off. So, this is my “towel trick.” Though it isn’t so much a trick, as a method. I lay the washed leaves on a kitchen towel, then roll, and let sit for a minute or two.

A rolled-up towel, taking water off of washed leaves

So, here we go. Greens, then walnuts.

Walnuts on top of Garlic Mustard in Blender

Now is a good time to tell you that I combined about a 1/2 cup of Cilantro Mucho pesto that I made prior, into this. So this actually is a Cilantro-Garlic Mustard Pesto. But, effectively, you can use, or mix in, any pesto variety you already have. It just so happened that I already had old pesto in the fridge when it was time to make this, and keeping my Experiments condensed and under control in the fridge is a balancing act. I regularly combine multiple smaller bits of things that are pretty much the same. So, this also contains Garlic, from before.

Here you can see the jar that held the old pesto, and that would hold the new mixture as well. Observe my workspace, with my favorite all-stage-except-for eating utensil, the rubber spatula:

A Glimpse of my workstation at a certain moment: Oil/vinegar decanter, Pesto in jar, spatulas, rag, and walnuts in a bag on cutting board

I also included this super cool wild chive I ripped out from the field:

A very long and thin wild chive, folded naturally in the shape of an animal’s head and neck: aquatic bird, or horse?

I had chopped that, but the picture went MIA. You can guess what it looked like. Lush!

I don’t use measurements – just keep adding oil until it’s the right consistency.

So, at some point, after blending the greens, walnuts, oil, and chives (and salt to taste), it can look like this:

Spring Weed Queen’s Garlic Mustard Pesto in blender glass closeup

Or this, after separating a bit:

Spring Weed Queen's Garlic Mustard Pesto in blender glass closeup, separating

I love my spatulas so much. I do my best to scrape every last bit out.

Two Spatulas in a blender glass that has just blended something green

You may say it doesn’t make that much of a difference, but look at how much I got from scraping, that just would have gone down the drain:

Spring Weed Queen's Garlic Mustard Pesto at bottom of white bowl

Sort of hard to tell in a wide-ish bowl, but that’s probably a good few tablespoons: not quite a half cup, yet still a substantial amount of sauce. But not enough for me! So I pour more on top, of course.

Spring Weed Queen's Garlic Mustard Pesto in Bowl Presentation

I kept pouring until what remained juuuust filled to the top of the jar. How about that for “it all works out” huh? That’s what happens when you don’t waste any. You get a full jar of pesto.

Spring Weed Queen's Garlic Mustard Pesto in Jar (bright green)

Spring Weed Queen's Garlic Mustard Pesto


Here’s what it looks like stirred up.

Spring Weed Queen's Garlic Mustard Pesto

It’s hard to make pesto and NOT have pasta. I was intending to do a grain-free cleanse, but it hasn’t quite come to pass yet. Oh well. This is pretty much as healthy as you can make dried semolina pasta, IMHO. But this would also be great as a dip (at room temp), a drizzle or dressing (if more oil is added), or however! I’ll admit sometimes I eat it straight. Whatever floats your fleck!

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