Invasive weed makes a great pesto!

Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 03/29, 2017 at 08:59 AM

Invasive weed makes a great pesto!

Garlic mustard breaks through the soil in spring. Image credit via Creative Commons to A. Delray - The Forest Vixen

You’ve probably seen garlic mustard during a walk at a park or pretty much anywhere in Pennsylvania. It’s an invasive, noxious weed that features broad, round-ish deep green leaves, and eventually puts up a stalk of small white flowers. It’s a hardy plant, sometimes even growing right through winter if it’s mild enough.

The plant is believed to have been brought here in the 1800s by settlers from Europe, and it has quickly spread. If left unchecked, garlic mustard can take over an ecosystem, and greatly harm native species. Deer do not care for it, so they end up eating competing plants, allowing it to spread even more efficiently.

Most biologists encourage removal of this plant when you see it on your property, and a great way to do that is harvest it to eat it, as garlic mustard is actually edible. And one way to do that is make a spring pesto with it.

Garlic mustard combines the zesty flavors of garlic and mustard greens, making it an ideal and interesting pesto ingredient. Be sure to harvest it early in the season before it flowers and turns bitter.

While many believe that pesto is only a combination of pine nuts and basil with other ingredients, nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, pesto in Italy can be any combination of nuts and herbs. The following recipe combines garlic mustard with almonds, creating a pesto that’s perfect for pasta and meat recipes, or as a tasty dip for breadsticks.

Garlic Mustard Pesto


- 10 cups garlic mustard leaves, loosely packed and from a pesticide-free source
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1 clove garlic (don’t want to use too much garlic as you get enough garlic flavor from the leaves)
- 1/2 cup Romano cheese, grated
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tbsp lemon juice


- Grind garlic, cheese, and almonds in a blender or food processor.
- Add rest of ingredients except oil.
- Hit blend, and while blending, slowly pour in olive oil.
- Blend until thoroughly mixed.

{name} Author: Jamie Oberdick

Bio: Editor, Local Food Journey | Passionate about supporting local food in Central PA


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