Thursday, April 27, 2017

Wild Dinner: Garlic Mustard and Cleavers Pesto with Dryad's Saddle

Dryad's Saddle (Polyporus squamosus)
Sometimes when I'm out looking for morels, I don't find any morels. If I'm lucky, I will find Dryad's Saddle (aka Pheasant Back, aka Polyporus squamosus.) If it's early enough in the season they will be tender and juicy and delicious. I'm happy to report that was the case today.

Also while out looking for morels, I passed piles of (weeded) garlic mustard, but I also passed fields of it where the volunteers hadn't yet reached.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

So I thought, "You know what would make a nice dinner...."

So even though I didn't find morels, I returned home with a bag full of Dryad's Saddle, garlic mustard, and some cleavers, which is a delicious fresh spring green (yay!) with the texture of sandpaper (boo!), but blended into pesto it is quite nice.

Cleavers (Galium aparine)

Demonstration of how cleavers use their sandpaper-like texture to stick to you.
I like to cut the pungent taste of garlic mustard with a less bold green: cleavers and chickweed (Stellaria media) are top on my list this time of year.


Garlic Mustard and Cleavers Pesto:


  • 2 cups greens (I used mostly garlic mustard with a bit of cleavers)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup walnuts: dry roasted then splashed with lemon juice and tamari at end of cooking
  • 2+ Tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • lemon juice
  • nutritional yeast (optional, but nice addition if not using Parmesan cheese)


  1. In a food processor, first process garlic into small pieces.
  2. Dry roast walnuts in iron pan until just start to smoke and turn brown. Turn off heat and add a splash of lemon juice and tamari, stir quickly to coat all the walnuts.
  3. Add walnuts to processor and pulse a little.
  4. Add greens in batches with oil and pulse until blended.
  5. Add lemon juice, salt, nutritional yeast to taste, pulse until blended.

Mix in to favorite pasta and enjoy.

Side of Dryad's Saddle:

Cut the dryad's saddle thinly, then saute in butter or oil until browned (stir or flip so both sides cook.)

And serve:

Enjoy the wilds of spring!

Happy Foraging,


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