Edible Invasive Plants

Last week was the last week of spring programming with our youth interns. In the Conservation Crew a big focus of their work in the spring was removing garlic mustard, an invasive plant that can rapidly take over a woodland if unmanaged. Our interns spent their shifts in the woods filling trash bags with the plant to then bring to a local composting site.

But for our last shift we took a new spin on how to remove invasive plants — we ate them. We collected garlic mustard, burdock and cattails and brought them back to our kitchen to prepare a meal of wild edibles.

We used the garlic mustard leaves to create a pesto, braised the burdock roots in soy sauce and sautéed cattail shoots in olive oil and garlic. The youth interns’ favorite was the garlic mustard pesto, but they were surprised how delicious it turned out.

Bellow is the recipe we used for our invasive plant pesto:
Garlic Mustard Pesto

• 3 cups Garlic Mustard leaves, washed, patted dry and packed in a measuring cup
• 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
• 1 cup Walnuts
• 1 cup Olive Oil
• 1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
• Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine Garlic Mustard leaves, garlic and walnuts in food processor and chop. (Or divide recipe in half and use a blender.) With motor running, add olive oil slowly. Shut off motor. Add cheeses, salt and pepper. Process briefly to combine. Enjoy!