mustard green pesto


The mustard greens are now well into their seed-bearing season, with tall, spindly branches, thinner green leaves, and tiny yellow four-petaled flowers that grow in groups on the ends of the branches. Each branch is filled with short needle-like pods that are filled with mustard seeds. “Red Giant,” the variety we planted, is from the brassica juncea species of mustard plant, and the seeds, which turn brown once they are dried, can be used to make brown mustard or as a seasoning in other dishes. With those tiny little seeds I can also start the whole cycle once again and harvest greens when the weather turns cold.

With the last of the mustard green leaves, I decided to make a mustard green pesto. Using the basil pesto recipe from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking as a basic template, I used roasted cashews and toasted sesame oil to balance the bite of the leaves, and rounded things out with extra-virgin olive oil and garlic. The result is an earthy, slightly spicy pesto with a warm savory note, and you can use this pesto just as you would other pestos. If you freeze the pesto in ice cube trays, it’s another way to keep the bounty from your garden on hand in any season and ready to make another excellent meal.

Mustard Green Pesto

55 grams/2 cups tightly packed mustard greens, stems removed
35 grams/1/4 cup cashews, roasted
80 grams/1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
25 grams/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Put cashews on a small baking sheet or metal pie pan and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool.

While the cashews roast, wash and dry the mustard greens. Remove the leaves from the stems. Peel the garlic and trim the stem end off.

Once the cashews have cooled, place all the ingredients in a high-powered blender and purée until smooth.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups

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