Cooking with Invasives!
Part of my job with the Land Trust involves killing this wonderful plant called Garlic Mustard. (see previous blog entry)
Instead of picking it and just outright destroying it I’ve decided to tonight try a recipe to make pesto out of it. I hear it’s not that bad, so during my pull this morning I bagged a bunch of this stuff (since it’s damn near everywhere!) so that I could make this attempt at culinary greatness. The recipe for it is fairly easy, I’m doing this from memory since I don’t have the sheet in front of me.
This was option #2 for making it:
- 4 cups of Garlic Mustard leaves, washed
- 2 cups of Parmesan cheese
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- Olive Oil
- Walnuts (I prefer pine nuts, but didn’t have any)
- Salt & Pepper
It’s basically the same way that I make regular pesto, just substituting garlic mustard leaves for basil. Most people recommend that you process all this in a food processor but That really makes a fine paste, and it’s so homogenized that it’s hard to get excited about something with that kind of consistency. So I do it all by hand. Here are the proper steps to do this by hand! Step 2: (Step one is having the mustard leaves as you see at the very top!) Always have a backup plan.
Step 3: A sharp knife is key. Since everything is being cut by hand, a sharp knife is needed to get through all the cheese, leaves, nuts and garlic to chop it all up finely enough. Step 4: Combine a third of the leaves, cheese, nuts, garlic, and start chopping away into finely pieces bits. What this does is gives everything slightly different sizes, and helps to really make the pesto more interesting and give it different flavors as you eat it. You want it chopped up finely enough so that when you put it together it sticks to itself, and you can almost make a brick out of it. When one of the batches is done, add in another third and continue on. I recommend a large cutting board for this as it can get messy!
Step 5: If one knife isn’t enough, add another! If you have a mezzaluna I would highly suggest using that, I didn’t so I had to sorta attempt to make one.
Step 6: Put it all into a container and add olive oil, stir up and BAM you have pesto! Looks tasty, eh?
Step 7: Add to pasta, throw in some good wine and you are ready to taste the wonderful explosion of flavors that shall ensue.
So how did it turn out? I couldn’t eat seconds. I used cheap pasta from the store and I think it just totally ruined the whole experience. Barely edible with that pasta (the pasta itself was bad with just butter, I tried). The pesto itself was alright – I have so much left over that it’s currently back in the fridge awaiting another try. I’m bummed about it all but I think come Sunday/Monday when I give it another go I’ll be able to report back and give my final say. I shall leave you all in suspense till then.
Also – I didn’t make the Mac & Cheese, I was actually full from just that one plate. Wine was good though, yay Cedar Creek Winery!!!