One of my favourite herbs is the peppery hot wild mustard and I think it’s peppy flavour pairs perfectly with savoury potatoes and melted cheese – as in this Wild Mustard Tart. The fact that I dribbled the sweet sagey warmth of coastal mugwort infused honey (recipe here) over the top makes it just plain irresistible. In my books anyway!
I’m sharing this recipe from Gather Victoria’s Patreon Cookbook because the cooling wet autumn weather has rebirthed a bounty of luscious wild mustard greens. I think this warm tart is so yummy that I served it to six seasoned travel journalists after a foraging tour of Victoria’s wild weedy terroir. And while they were a wee bit sceptical – they ate every last bite.
Wild Mustards have been used in food and medicines for centuries. And I’m positive there is some growing near you. Many mustards are invasive (brought here by settlers) many are native and consumed by indigenous peoples. In fact there are so many wild mustards it’s often hard to figure out exactly what variety you have – but as far as I know, they’re all edible. The only caution I have is to be vigilant, do your research and be sure you have a mustard – and not a lookalike.
The most common variety around here is Sinapis arvensis means mustard (sinapis) of the field (arvensis). Once native to Eurasia its found across the Northern Hemisphere and grows practically anywhere we’ve disturbed the soil, pastures, fields, roadsides, backyards and neighbourhood lanes, mainly in sunny spaces. I’ve also found plenty of Raphanus raphanistrum L or Wild Radish and Barbarea vulgaris – R.
Young leaves start close to the ground in a basal rosette, growing into erect plants 1-3 feet high topped with clusters of 4-petaled yellow flowers (delicious!) in the shape of the Maltese cross — which gave the name to their family, Cruciferae, or cross-like.
It’s unlikely with the oncoming winter any of these varieties will flower, so you’re looking for basal rosettes featuring pinnately divided leaves (which look a lot like slightly hairy arugula leaves). As the stalks begin to shoot upwards these leaves will twirl up the stalk in a spiral staircase design.
When very young the leaves of mustard taste similar arugula or watercress and can be eaten raw in salads. Some can be quite hot while others add a piquant flavour. As they get bigger they become tougher, hotter (and a little hairier) but still are delicious cooked in stews, swirled into pasta or alone as braised greens.
These spicy leaves can be collected, dried and powdered and then used as a seasoning. In ancient Rome, the leaves were pickled in vinegar and used as a condiment, and for centuries wild mustards were a common pot herb for whatever was bubbling on the fire for dinner – or a little spellcasting! Mustards are renowned for their magical powers of fertility, strength, prosperity and protection.
Wild mustards hail from the highly nutritious Brassicaceae or Cruciferae family along with radish, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, kale and many others. While it’s hard to find nutritional info on wild mustard, I’m betting they offer the same (if not more) benefits of common mustards which are high in Vitamin A, K, C antioxidants and minerals like manganese and calcium.
Sometimes wild mustards are categorized as toxic by various governmental agricultural departments but that’s for livestock who can get upset stomachs if they eat too much of it. Although be warned, some people can be allergic to mustard so if you’ve never eaten any, it is best to try only a little at first.
This is a pretty easy recipe and makes for a lovely warm dinner on an autumn night. If you don’t have an infused honey on hand, you can make a quickie version by warming a tablespoon of chopped coastal mugwort in half cup of honey on the stove for an hour (you can also use rosemary or thyme) or just use plain honey.
I make this tart with homemade puff pastry when I want to serve it to guests (or travel journalists) but for a quick dinner I just grab some store-bought puff pastry from the freezer and it works out just fine!
Wild Mustard Tart w/ Potato & Gruyere Cheese (drizzled with Coastal Mugwort Honey)
- 1 prepared puff pastry dough (or regular shortcrust crust)
- 5 oz. cream cheese
- 1 cup of grated Gruyere cheese (plus 3 tablespoons for topping)
- 1 cup finely chopped wild mustard leaves, put aside a few flowers for garnish
- 4 russet potatoes, thinly sliced (preferably with a mandolin)
- 2 teaspoons of thyme
- 1/4 c. whole milk
- 1/4 cup of honey
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425°. Press pie dough into 9 baking or pie tin. Don’t overwork. Using a fork, prick pie dough all over (this will keep it from puffing up during baking). Refrigerate until ready to add potatoes.
- Put sliced potatoes in a pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Cook for 4–6 minutes until just tender. Drain well and pat dry.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine both types of cheese with the wild finely chopped mustard greens, thyme, add salt and pepper. Whisk in milk until smooth, then add potatoes to cheese mixture and stir till fully coated.
- Arrange potatoes evenly all over tart shell until filled. Sprinkle three tablespoons of remaining Gruyere cheese over the tart. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Drizzle honey over the tart, garnish with flowers. Serve warm!
Note: I used the flowers of purple-mauve flowers of Dame Rocket – another mustard!