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Word of Mouth

Eat The N.H. Invaders: Five Invasive Species Recipes

Randen Peterson via Flickr Creative Commons

Today on Word of Mouth we talked with science writer Hannah Newman, who wrote an article for Quartz, about the new movement of eating away invasive species. Listen to the segment here. We thought this was a pretty exciting idea. After all, we are full of invasives here in New England where the Europeans first landed. To get the ball rolling on  your "invasivore" diet, here are five recipes that can be made with invasive species found here in the Granite State. 

Garlic Mustard Pesto

Credit Joshua Mayer via Flickr Creative Commons
Garlic Mustard

From user matsuoka wong at Food52.com

Garlic mustard has been in the northeast since early colonists introduced it in their gardens. In the late 19th century, it had made its way beyond the garden wall and has since become an invasive species heading west from New England. Luckily, it is versatile and can be quite tasty. This garlic pesto recipe is one of its most common culinary uses.

  • 11 cups lightly packed garlic mustard leaves and tips, loosely chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 squeezes lemon juice
    1. In a blender, grind garlic pine nuts and parmesan
    2. Add garlic mustard
    3. While blending, pour in a steady stream of olive oil until smooth
    4. Add salt, sugar, lemon juice and pulse until completely mixed
    5. Serve over pasta 

Buttered Sow Thistle

Credit Joshua Mayer via Flickr Creative Commons
Common Sow Thistle

From “The Essential Hedgerow and Wayside Cookbook” via eattheweeds.com

Sow thistle is found in every US state and most of Canada. It often grows in pastures, fields and wetlands.  A good source of several nutrients including vitamins A and C, thiamine, calcium and iron, sow thistle was introduced to North America from New Zealand in the 18th century by explorers. Though there are many different directions one take this invasive plant in, we’re sharing the most simple below.

For this recipe the young 2- to 4-inch leaves of common sow-thistle are best and when the leaves are not bitter. Other sow-thistle species may need their spines trimming off and may be bitter to the taste requiring some preparatory boiling.

  • 1 or 2 handfuls sow-thistle leaves – young
  • Butter or oil
  • Beef stock or water
  • Ground nutmeg – pinch
  • 1 tsp. flour
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat some butter or oil in a pan and add the leaves.
  2. Stir thoroughly to coat the leaves.
  3. Add a good slug of stock or water, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Add a pinch of nutmeg, the flour and some seasoning.
  5. Stir everything, then add another knob of butter and melt into the sow-thistle over a low heat.
  6. Serve.

Plantain Soup

Credit Jesse Taylor via Wikimedia Creative Commons
White man's foot

By Christopher Nyerges via eattheweeds.com

Appropriately named, white man’s foot or the broad plantain began to pop up in the U.S. after Englishmen did. You have probably seen them in many a sidewalk crack and lawn and like us had no idea that it was edible. Turns out it has a broad range of uses, one of which being this delicious plantain soup.

  • 3 cups of diced plantains
  • 4 cups of milk or water (milk from powdered milk works as well)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour, wheat or potato
  • 1 turnip
  • 1 Jerusalem Artichoke
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Dice the plantains, remove any fibers.
  2. Simmer the diced plantains in the milk or water.
  3. Chop up the turnip and Jerusalem Artichoke and add to the liquid.
  4. In a separate cup add water or milk to the flour to get a non-lumpy consistency, then add to the soup.
  5. Separate the eggs and whites, beat separately, add separately to the soup, stirring constantly.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste
  7. Serve.
Credit Marissa Bracke via Flickr Creative Commons

Warm Dandelion and Bacon Salad

Adapated from Cuisine Du Terroi via Boulderlocavore.com

Dandelions are so pervasive across the country that it is easy to forget that they are not supposed to be here. Brought here in the pant cuffs of European settlers, we have been dealing with dandilions and their amazing ability to invade ever since. Usually when we pull them from our lawns we throw them in the compost or yard waste, but they have many culinary uses. Because we love bacon (who doesn’t) this was one of our favorite recipes that we discovered.  

  • 250-300 g or 9-10 ounces dandelion greens
  • 150 g or 5 ounces potatoes
  • 150 g or 5 ounce pork belly or bacon
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Wash dandelion leaves. If using larger leaves tear them in half or thirds (so your prepared leaves are a manageable size to eat! 
  2. Boil potato(s) unpeeled for 20-30 minutes until done.  Peel and smash.
  3. Cut the pork belly into ½ inch (1 cm) pieces
  4. Sauté in a small pan until crisped (due to the fat content it will not become totally crispy as bacon would).  Set pan with pork belly aside.
  5. Using a heavy skillet (I used a cast iron skillet) add dandelion leaves, smashed potato, shallot, and onion.  On low heat begin to cook mixture stirring frequently.  The dandelion leaves will begin to wilt quickly.
  6. While the mixture above is beginning to cook, reheat the skillet with the crisped pork belly. 
  7. When warm, add the vinegar, stirring frequently to caramelize the pork in the vinegar.  This will happen very quickly if the pan is warm (1-2 minutes).  
  8. Add the pork to the dandelion mixture, along with salt and pepper to taste. 
  9. Stir well to combine and serve immediately.

Periwinkle Fritters

Credit jacinta lluch valero via Flickr Creative Commons
Periwinkle snail

Adapted from Euell Gibbons, Stalking the Blue-Eyed Scallop via Eattheinvaders.com

First noticed in New England in the 1860’s, the periwinkle snail is found on the coast wherever there are crevices: broken concerete, hard substrate rocks or even docks. The common origin story is that they arrived in America in rocks and were intentionally dispersed by settlers seeking a familiar food source.

Fritters are a tasty and somewhat labor-intensive, seashore treat particularly if you are a fan of fried mollusks. Shelling the snails can be time-consuming, so find a helping hand if possible.

  • 2 cups cleaned periwinkles (about 4 1/2 cups in shells)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  1. Wash the snails in their shells in cold water.
  2. Add periwinkles to a pot of boiling water in a saucepan, along with a small handful of salt to shrink and toughen the meat. (This eases their removal.)
  3. The snails are ready when the operculum falls off.
  4. Remove the periwinkles from their shells with a nutpick or pin.
  5. Beat the egg and mix with flour, snails, and salt, until flour is evenly dampened.
  6. Form the batter into little cakes with wet hands.
  7. Fry cakes in a well-greased frying pan until golden brown on both sides.
  8. Serve with crusty bread and a salad

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