Right now, the wild mustard is free for the picking in our region. I find it in unexpected places in my yard, including the middle of the lawn, and along acequias closer to the river. Needless to say, you don’t want to pick any that’s growing where it’s exposed to walking dogs, or where chemical spraying may have taken place.
When the weather is still very cold and the wild mustard is still young, it’s a great green to spice up a salad, adding a wasabi-like heat when combined with milder greens. Taste it, and if it’s too hot for salads cook it, which lowers the heat. I love to mix it with spinach, chard, or other mild greens about half and half: saute’ some chopped garlic in olive oil in a skillet, add the well-washed greens and a couple of tablespoons of raisins, and braise over medium heat until done. Garnish with toasted pine nuts, and eat.
These potent, highly flavorful greens were the “spring tonic” of our ancesters, and today we still need those vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. We may not be recovering from a winter without fresh vegetables, but we still need the connection with the awakening earth that its first green shoots can provide. If you were thinking ahead last fall, you made sure to have plenty of herbs, and now you can sprinkle your cooked greens with the shoots of parsley and fennel that are coming up from last year’s plants. They’ll shoot to seed soon, so use them up now.