Side Dishes

Garlic Mustard: An Early Spring Arrival

My mentor, Gary Lincoff, professional botanist and author of the Audubon Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, cautioned his students not to be a ”plant snob.”

Garlic mustard is invasive, choking out native plants. But it is edible.

I will never get tired of saying that what I like best about foraging is that so many edible plants grow in abundance without any help from me.

I grew up on a farm. Planting, weeding, watering and harvesting are hard work. Foraging is fun.

Garlic mustard is one of the ten featured plants in my e-book, Joyful Foraging: Learn How to Feast on the Food Growing All Around You. Take a close look at the heart shaped leaves with scalloped edges and deep veins.

These are tastiest before the weather warms up. Once the white flowers appear, the leaves become bitter
While you're in the field, look for field garlic pictured on the right, also featured in my e-book.

Meanwhile enjoy this recipe for garlic mustard with sesame oil:


Foraged items:
1. Garlic mustard greens
2. Field garlic, if you find it

Purchased items:
1. Sesame oil
2. Onion - if you don't find field garlic

Gather enough greens to fill a paper lunch bag
If you find field garlic, gather it to use instead of an onion

1. Rinse greens to remove any dirt and blot dry
2. Coarsely chop leaves
3. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add chopped greens
4. Boil for 10 minutes or until the water is bright green
5. Remove from heat, drain leaves and discard water
6. Chop field garlic or onion
7. Sauté until golden
8. Stir in cooked garlic mustard greens

Remove from heat, plate and serve

garlic mustard sesame oil 003.JPG

Wild Edible Basics

Tender Tops: My Clean and Easy Technique for Harvesting Wild Edibles

Foraging is about working smarter, not harder. Nothing is more satisfying than coming home with enough freshly picked wild ingredients to create or enhance a recipe.

You eliminate most of the hard work by using your folding scissors or small knife to cut the tender tops of green plants like lamb's quarters, quickweed or even knotweed. You're not going to eat the more mature, tough parts of the plant anyway, so there is no need to carry that extra weight.

Take a close look at this photo for how to harvest lamb's quarters. As you can see, the scissors is taking just the top of the plant. Notice the waxed paper in the background. 

Unless you are harvesting wild roots, you do not need to pull up the entire plant. This was about fifteen minutes of work, including folding the waxed paper so my leaves stay fresh and don't bruise.

Once you are back in the kitchen, you want to make sure your wild gathered ingredients are free of pollen or insects. Sturdier leaves can be rinsed in cold water and spun in a salad spinner.

More delicate plants, like wood sorrel and Asiatic day flower blossom can be misted with a plant sprayer and blotted dry with a lint-free towel or paper towel.

That's it!