Invasive plants came to America for many reasons, but many were brought by people who found them useful and planted them because they were edible. This spring, as you pull invasives in your woods, you might take some vengeance from at least a few of these invasives by eating them in a variety of recipes.
At a recent meeting for the Lawrence County CISMA several dishes were served with garlic mustard which were a hit for the more than 40 attendees. Reportedly, garlic mustard was brought to America by German immigrants from Europe and planted it in their herb gardens to use as flavoring in their cooking. It adds a good flavor to food and can be used in place of spinach in a spinach lasagna or add it to your favorite salsa recipe. Experiment with throwing a little garlic mustard in with other dishes to add flavor in early spring and feel good about taking a bite out of the population of this invasive plant.
Although fortunately knotweed is not common, and we hope you don’t find any since it is difficult to control, it too is quite tasty to eat in the spring. The stems have a flavor said to be better than rhubarb if harvested early. Substituted for rhubarb in an apple-rhubarb pie recipe you’ll be helping us “eat our way out of the invasive problem!” If the knotweed patch has been sprayed in the prior year but still comes up, we don’t recommend you eat them as there may be residual herbicide in the plant tissue.
A tasty spring salad can be made with lettuce, new dandelion leaves, honeysuckle, and multiflora rose growth. Pick only the ends of these invasive plants that are young shoots which are flexible and high in vitamin C. Once these plants get past their first growth spurt, they aren’t very edible.
So… if you’re procrastinating getting out to pull your garlic mustard maybe the idea that you can eat some of it at the end of the day will inspire you to get out and get the job done! Recipes can be found below for the best way to cook up some of these invasives. Bon Appetit!
For the recipes, click here.