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  • Tovin G.H.

Eating Your Problems Away: Edible Invasive Plants

Updated: Jul 28, 2022

By Tovin G.H. 26 July 2022

As Wildways Interns, it is our job to manage invasive species, which decrease biodiversity and increase an ecosystem's vulnerability to extreme weather events. Most of the time, we pull plants and then let them decompose. However, sometimes we find a better use for the plants. This is because some invasive species are edible! One of the tastiest is garlic mustard: a troublesome biannual with the habit of exuding poisons into the soil to kill beneficial fungi (allelopathy).

This plant tastes much like its distant cousin, broccoli, though it becomes more bitter and chewy as the season goes on. Since this grows everywhere–it is basically free vegetables! Of course, we had to share this. And what better place than with people at Fairshare, a program at the Intervale that donates vegetables to income-eligible people. This was really a continuation of a similar project from the previous Wildways interns. They made and shared garlic mustard pesto. We decided to repeat their success, but this time with a simpler recipe that demonstrated how to cook garlic mustard as part of a simple meal. We chose a stir fry because of how easy it is to modify with other ingredients or incorporate into other dishes. For example, you could add beans, broth, and meat to the pan-fried vegetables to make a soup. We created flyers (attached) to promote the recipe and explain how to find garlic mustard, identify it, cook it, etc. Of course, we also provided samples for the more adventurous.

The recipe:

Garlic Mustard Stir-fry

(Makes 1-2 servings)

2 cups garlic mustard leaves, loosely chopped

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 dashes of soy sauce

1 cup grated carrots

2 cups cooked rice

Chop garlic mustard and grate carrots. Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Once oil is hot, add in grated carrots and soy sauce. Cook uncovered on medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in garlic mustard. Cook for an additional three minutes, stirring frequently. Serve the dish on top of rice. Add additional soy sauce to taste.

Happy eating!

For more information, check out the flyer we made for Fair Share:

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