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Garlic Mustard Pesto
Apr 29

Garlic Mustard Pesto

By Maris Altieri RD, LMP Coordinator

If you walked in the woods recently, you probably noticed the plant in the picture above densely decorating the forest floor. Labeled as an invasive species by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, garlic mustard takes root in many native forests across the United States. Instead of tossing this prolific plant, why not use it as a resource? Garlic mustard is a deliciously pungent leafy green that's rich in vitamin A, C, iron and potassium. In fact, it was intentionally introduced to the US from Europe to use as food!

When foraging Garlic mustard, avoid plants that have been treated with weed killer, pollutants, or are close to poison ivy. The garlic odor when crushed is a sure sign that you've picked the right plant. As you pull it up by the roots, don't scatter any seed and place immediately in a bag or container. Note that the younger plants are the most palatable for the garlic mustard tends to take on a bitter taste with age. Not sure if you uprooted the right plant? Don't eat it! It's always better to be safe than sorry. 

If you're new to cooking with garlic mustard, try out the tasty recipe below! 

Garlic Mustard Pesto:

Prep time: 5 minutes  Cook time: 0 minutes  Serves: 6


  • 10 cups lightly packed garlic mustard leaves and tips, loosely chopped
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (replace with 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast for dairy free substitution)
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 squeezes lemon juice


  1. In a blender or food processor, grind garlic, pine nuts and parmesan or nutritional yeast. Add garlic mustard.
  2. Slowly pour in olive oil and continue to blend until smooth. 
  3. Add salt and lemon juice. Pulse until fully mixed. 
  4. Store leftovers in refrigerator for up to 1 week or pour into ice cube molds, freeze, and store up to 6 months.