I realize this plant is actually an invasive weed in North America, but I don’t mind it in my garden since it tastes great!
I’ve noticed/smelt it before, growing down in the woods by the river, but as a spindly upright plant with pointed leaves and white flowers. So when I saw this big healthy plant in the open sun, still in bud, flourishing on our old compost heap, I didn’t recognize it! The bushy young plant has heart-shaped leaves. But as it grows upwards and thins out the leaves become more pointed. The small white flowers appear in May, and can also be eaten.
We laughed at it possibly being edible, as it grows near our nettles. And then we rubbed the leaves…. mmm! We tried it…
… the flavour was first garlicky, then bitter, then very strong, and then peppery. I immediately looked it up, already suspecting what it was, and found a few recipes.
In German it is called “garlic weed” (Knoblauchsrauke), but in English it is known as Garlic Mustard. That explains the spiciness. (Apparently it can also be called “Jack-in-the-bush”!) I imagine it tastes stronger as it grows, so I decided to try out this recipe while the leaves are still young and tender.
(For more information and photos of the flower, take a look here: Alliaria petiolata)
To celebrate Earth Day: Green Pancakes!
For two people, puree about 40g of the leaves (washed and shaken dry) with 100ml milk, a pinch of salt and two eggs. Mix in 85g self-raising flour and let stand for 30 minutes. Then fry in a pan just like pancakes and enjoy with salt and pepper or – even better – with a little grated cheese on top!
We are planning on trying a pesto next, or maybe some herb butter…