Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) - Herb of the Week

Or should I say Weed of the Week? This invasive weed needs to be tamed, and one solution to tame anything is make it something people want, so I thought let’s eat it!   If everyone eats it then there will be less of it to be invasive.

Garlic Mustard  (Alliaria petiolata  - Herb of the Week

Garlic mustard is a biennial flowering plant in the Mustard family, Brassicaceae. It is native to Europe, western and central Asia, and northwestern Africa, from Morocco, Iberia and the British Isles, north to northern Scandinavia, and east to northern India and western China. 

In the first year of growth, plants form clumps of round shaped, slightly wrinkled leaves, that when crushed smell like garlic. The next year plants flower in spring, producing cross shaped white flowers in dense clusters. As the flowering stems bloom they elongate into a spike-like shape.

When blooming is complete, plants produce upright fruits that release seeds in mid-summer. Plants are often found growing along the margins of hedges. 

Depending upon conditions, garlic mustard flowers either self-fertilize or are cross-pollinated by a variety of insects. Self-fertilized seeds are genetically identical to the parent plant, enhancing its ability to colonize an area where that genotype is suited to thrive. (That is botany speak for it spreads like crazy and becomes invasive!)

How to eat it:

• Young tender leaves can be torn up a bit and added to salads.

• Sautee garlic in olive oil or sesame oil or bacon grease; add chopped garlic mustard and other greens if available (garlic chives, spinach, arugula, lambsquarters, mustard greens, what-have-you); a little salt or soy sauce; add a bit of water or stock and cook gently. A dash of vinegar, balsamic or otherwise, may be in order. Taste and decide. This could be spread on toast, added to casseroles, eggs, quiche, stir-fry, etc.

• Garlic mustard pesto: crush garlic, slice up garlic mustard and also garlic chives if available, puree both in food processor with olive oil and walnuts (or pine nuts); add Parmesan cheese. Start the water for pasta!

• Cream sauce: heat 1/4 cup oil and add 1/4 cup flour and cook; add hot milk. Separately cook finely chopped garlic mustard in a little sesame oil; and tamari or soy sauce. Add some of the sauce; puree in food processor and add back to the sauce. Add cheese as desired. Good on stuffed grape leaves for one.

• With leftover garlic mustard sauce, add a little yogurt, balsamic vinegar, and tamari and serve as a sauce for steamed asparagus.


Garlic Mustard Sauce for Roast Beef

First the roast beef: Make little inch slashes on the roast.

Sauce: Using a food processor make a slurry with crushed garlic mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Take a teaspoon and press small amounts of the slurry into the slashes you cut in the roast.  Then slather the rest of the slurry all over the roast. Add some water to the bottom of the roast pan. Cover with aluminum for part of the cooking time so the outside doesn't burn. Bake at 325 degrees F until it reaches the desired internal temperature according to your meat thermometer.

Cream sauce with the garlic mustard for the roast

 Chop finely garlic mustard and garlic chives. Sauté in olive oil; add chicken stock or other liquid and cook gently.  Place in a food processor and purée.  Heat 1/4 cup oil and add 1/4 cup flour and cook; add hot milk.  Add some of the puree from food processor and stir.  Then place remaining purée into the pan along with drippings from the roast beef pan. This is so flavorful - cheese is unnecessary. 

We have more recipes for using Garlic Mustard so check back this season for more ideas for eating this invasive weed.

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