Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Garlic Mustard Pesto

I got the idea for garlic mustard pesto from a friend at the Hanover (NH) Garlic Mustard Muster several weeks ago. That event, attended by 50 people, was to rally interest in and enthusiasm for volunteer-driven garlic mustard pulls in the Upper Valley. It certainly inspired me to plan, host, and help at several garlic mustard pulls in the NH Seacoast.
In summer, I make basil pesto and cilantro pesto, but had never thought about pesto from the invasive biennial garlic mustard, until I tried Barbara Mcilroy's pesto at the Muster. It was good and I asked for the recipe: 3-4 cups packed garlic mustard leaves (well-rinsed), 1-2 cloves garlic, ~1 cup parmesan cheese, 1 cup walnuts, ~1/3 cup+ x-virgin olive oil, and salt to taste; all blended.

On Monday I took two of my colleagues, Malin and Haley, to a patch of garlic mustard growing in a ravine on the University of New Hampshire Thompson Farm. We spent less than an hour pulling the plants, saving a basket full of the leaves for my own pesto experiment.

 The patch of garlic mustard that we pulled at the Thompson Farm and
Malin and Haley's smiling faces after we finished.
I made the pesto last night and took it with me to a garlic mustard pull on the UNH Campus. One of the UNH students' favorite professors is Dr. Tom Lee. For several years he has invited his conservation biology students to help pull garlic mustard at the edge of College Woods. I joined them this year, from 10-11:30 am this morning. Tom brought coffee and donuts, I brought garlic mustard pesto (from leaves harvested the day before at Thompson Farm). I think the students ate some of the donuts, but to my delight they enthusiastically tried and loved the pesto too!
The students (about a dozen) were awesome and together (17 of us in all) we pulled 3 garbage bags worth of garlic mustard, cleaning out this site for another year.
At least 5 students took a bag of leaves home to try making their own pesto. Here they are gleaning the bags of pulled plants roots and all for just the kidney-shaped leaves.
These are great students (and thanks Tom Lee for being such an inspiring teacher for these students)--spending a few hours on this effort, in between the end of classes and the start of finals. They all made my day.

Back at the office, Malin and Haley were psyched about the pesto too, since they had pulled the source plants. If you want to make your own garlic mustard pesto, let me know, and I'll find a garlic mustard pull near you that just might need some extra hands.

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