Garlic Mustard Pesto



It grows along the roadsides. It spreads through forests, fields, meadows…and even your backyard.

Once you recognize it, you will realize that Garlic Mustard is EVERYWHERE YOU TURN. It wants to take over the world. It has an agenda.

A non-native garden escape, Garlic Mustard is a huge threat to our ecosystem here in North America. It spreads like wildfire, pushing out other plants and monopolizing entire landscapes. It’s incredibly persistent; to get rid of it, the entire plant must be pulled from the ground and destroyed. Just leaving it in a compost heap isn’t good enough – it can still take root and continue to spread.

It’s a terrible, no good, asshole of a plant.

But it is also tasty.

It’s nice and light and garlicky and wonderful. So, before we rid it forever from our lands… Let’s eat it!

I'm sorry for calling you an asshole, Garlic Mustard. I know you're just trying to live your life like everyone else.
I’m sorry for calling you an asshole, Garlic Mustard. I know you’re just trying to live your life like everyone else.

There are lots of ways to prepare Garlic Mustard – add some fresh leaves to a salad, throw it on top of your pizza before you put it in the oven, or saute the greens in butter or olive oil with a little salt and pepper as a side dish. The possibilities are AS LIMITLESS AS YOUR DREAMS.

Recently, I decided to try making it into a pesto.  The result: fantastic. It was zingy and fresh and delicious and perfect for spring. I kind of went off of a bunch of pesto recipes, but this awesome one was my main guideline. You can tweak it and adjust the amounts of the ingredients to your liking – it’s hard to get it wrong.

Garlic Mustard Pesto


2 cups (packed) of Garlic Mustard leaves

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup olive oil (or oil of choice)

1/2-3/4 cup of shredded parmesan or romano cheese (I used a mixture…about 50/50 each)

1/2 cup walnuts or pine nuts (I toasted mine…mmm)

Salt and pepper to taste.

To make the pesto:

First, collect your greens. We have so much in our yard that this didn’t take long at all. Be careful to choose healthy looking plants – don’t use any leaves that look damaged or like they were nibbled on by insects (during this process, we may have nibbled on some leaves ourselves…shhh).


Next, let them hang out in some water to loosen any dirt, then give them a quick rinse in a colander before patting dry.


While the leaves were still soaking, we toasted the walnuts to bring out even more nutty wonderfulness.

DSC_6153Next, put the leaves, garlic cloves, and nuts into the food processor and pulse to chop. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil until everything is combined.


And then…add the cheese. The lovely, amazing cheese…


Process until (relatively) smooth.

If you like, you can add in a little salt and pepper and pulse again to combine.

We tossed our pesto with rice pasta (this recipe makes enough to coat about 1 lb of pasta). And then we ate dinner watching the sunset, surrounded by candles and drinking a fine wine while having meaningful conversation.


In reality, we sat on the couch and stuffed our faces and freaked out between mouthfuls about how great the pesto was while watching Game of Thrones.

That, my friends, is the good life.





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