What's for dinner?

Garlic~Mustard Pesto Sauce

Garlic~Mustard. Alliaria petiolata. Considered an invasive species in North America that originated from Europe. Brought over by early settlers it’s highly nutritious with vitamins C, E, some of the B vitamins and carotenoids. It also contains potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, copper, iron and manganese as well as omega-3 fatty acids. All Parts of the plant are edible, leaves, root, flowers and seeds (I added some flowers to this dish.) It is best harvested in the spring time before the weather gets too hot otherwise the leaves can taste bitter. (of course blanching in salt water can take out some of the bitterness) Roots can be harvested in spring or fall. It is a bi-ennial herb meaning it has a 2 year life cycle. It is edible in both seasons. (As with any food that may be new to you, start out with a small taste to check for any adverse reactions you may have. Slowly add more throughout the week checking for any reactions you may have that indicate that this may not be the food for you ie: stomach upset, hives/rash) 

Garlic Mustard in Late May. Notice the long finger-like tendrils under the flowers are the seed pods forming.

I fortunately had some growing in my backyard so I didn’t have to go far to gather enough for this recipe but where might you find some? Along roadways, in ditches, in forests. It likes to grow in shade or sun. You can pretty much find it anywhere. It’s very hardy! We are encouraged to pull up this invasive species as it can outgrow our native species and overtake them, interfering with their growth and the balance of our native eco-system. So why not cook with it? Free food? Yes please! Foragers responsibility check: Please be ware of the places you decide to forage from and stay away from polluted ditches or sewer drains, frequented roadways or private property.

Some good books on foraging:

First year plant
A harvest of second year plants in early May

I created this pesto sauce which I used for pasta but some other suggestions for use are: stuffing for baked mushrooms or tomatoes, using on crackers or toast, or as a dip. Garlic-Mustard contains cyanide which can be reduced or eliminated when cooked. This is why it’s important to blanch the leaves before making the pesto.



  • Servings: 4-6
  • Print

  • 2 cups loose garlic mustard leaves
  • 2 cups mixed nuts and seeds (see note)
  • 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil (plus extra if needed)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt to taste (optional)[/recipe-ingredients]


  1. Start by blanching the garlic-mustard leaves. Bring 2 liters of salted water to boil. Add the garlic-mustard leaves and boil them about 1 minute (just until they wilt), drain and add to a food processor.
  2. Toast the mixed nuts and seeds. Let cool slightly. (10 minutes) Then add to food processor.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients into the food processor and pulse until desired consistency. If you need it a little more liquidy then drizzle in more oil.
  4. Use immediately or store in an air tight container in the fridge for about a month.
  5. Enjoy Life in the pink!

I used cashews, (hulled) pumpkin seeds and walnuts. Some other choices are (hulled) sunflower seeds, almonds, pine nuts. Choose any variation equaling 2 cups.



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