Garlic Mustard Boursin-Style Cheese


I'm not trained as a botanist, but as time goes on, I'm gaining a real appreciation for it. Knowing the basic characteristics of plant families gives a forager a better conception of the relationship between plants, and allows for much more comfort in the field, particularly when encountering unknown species.

A few weeks ago while I was out hunting morels, I came upon a plant I'd never before seen.  Given that its flowers each had four petals, and where arranged on the stalk in a spiral-staircase pattern, and that the leaves had a distinctly pungent odor when crushed between my fingers, I knew I had some sort of mustard on my hands.

Naturally, I was pretty excited, since I'm featuring mustards for Wild Things in May, and generally like eating them. My balloon of happiness burst, however, when I discovered the identity of my mystery plant upon consulting a guide.  It was garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata, the dreaded invasive that has taken over a great swath of the eastern US.  I had heard my friends east of the Mississippi tell many stories about how this plant crowded out natives, and took over their yard, nearby parking lots, beloved wild areas, and more.  You see, the plant actually chemically prevents other plants from growing in the area.

Seeing garlic mustard for the first time in my area was bad news.  I looked it up at the USDA, which was only showing it in two counties of my state.  For the first time ever, I filed a report with the agency, showing evidence of the presence of the invasive plant in my area.

If there is any up side to invasive species, it is that you can eat unlimited amounts of them without feeling bad. As you might imagine, garlic mustard has a pungent mustard-y green meets garlic flavor that makes it a nice ingredient in a number of recipes from pesto, to chimichurri, and more, although some find it to be disagreeable.  This was my first experience with garlic mustard, but others have told me that young growth is the best for eating, and that older plants possess more pungent bitterness. Sadly, including garlic mustard in your meals won't make much of a dent in their population.  To rid an area of the plant may be difficult, and you have to remove all plants by the root before they flower and seed.  Click here to learn more about identifying garlic mustard.



Garlic Mustard Boursin-Style Cheese


4 oz. goat chevre
2 oz. cream cheese
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4-1/2 c. chopped garlic mustard leaves
2 Tbsp. chopped dill
freshly cracked black pepper
salt

1. In a medium bowl, mash together the goat cheese, cream cheese, and olive oil with a fork until they are evenly combined.

2.  Stir in the chopped garlic mustard and dill.

3.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Comments

  1. Well, it looks quite scrumptious. And I hate that plant with a passion.

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    1. We might not be able to beat it, but we sure can find ways to eat it.

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  2. C and I had risotto with garlic mustard in it last week... I didn't know what it was until after, and I wouldn't have guessed it. I've spent so many hours pulling that shit out of the ground by the roots that the smell is ingrained in my nostrils and, try though I might, I haven't enjoyed any of the pestos I've tried using it. HOWEVER. Cooking it in the risotto seemed to tame the greeness that, perhaps, is the cause of my distaste. Lesson learned! I'm going to give it another try [although in the meantime, the farm animals enjoy it just fine when I pull it and throw it to them.]

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    1. I was talking about this with Erica tonight, that it is probably that turnip-y bitter green taste that people object to, not so much the garlic-y stank. I'm glad the critters will eat it.

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  3. "If there is any up side to invasive species, it is that you can eat unlimited amounts of them without feeling bad." I know, right? Well, good on you for reporting the garlic mustard to USDA, and the recipe looks fabulous!

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    1. I know that as foragers, you and I spend a lot of time taking into consideration the impact we have upon plant populations. It's fun to be able to go out and just pick and enjoy a plant. Unfortunately with these invasives, when we pick them, I rarely even see that we've made a dent in the population. Take the hoary cress, for example.

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  4. That grows all over where I live. I had no idea I could eat it. This recipe looks really delicious. Thanks.

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    1. I can't promise you'll like it. I know quite a few people that don't. But it's worth a shot.

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  5. I want to eat everything you make. How do I do that? I'm just kidding, but I really think it would be awesome to eat at your table.

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    1. Thank you, Hannah. I love to eat, and nothing makes me happier than to see the people at my table enjoying their food, too.

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  6. I love Boursin, and would love to make some at home. I've got a bunch of herbs coming up in my garden that would be perfect for this recipe. How did you mold it?

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  7. I want to know how you got it into that shape with the leaves on top, too! It looks really good.

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  8. Garlic mustard is a big topic of discussion in the conservation groups I am involved with. I always do think it sounds delicious.

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  9. I just tried this recipe and it came out great! Thanks for showing me a way to use at least a little bit of that little monster.

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  10. I just tried this recipe, and it came out great. I like knowing that I can eat the little devil.

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