The first time I found mugwort in my garden I thought it was a chrysanthemum left over from the previous fall's planting. I left it in place, expecting a riot of bloom come autumn, but alas, all I got was more mugwort. The foliage isn't unattractive, and it smells terrific, but it's a thug in the garden and not something you want to let run rampant among your perennials.
Now I pull up every speck of mugwort I find . . . as soon as I find it. (And yet there’s always more to be pulled. . . . ) But rather than throw it on the compost pile, I bring it into the kitchen.
Mugwort is a traditional flavoring in several Asian cuisines, and the taste combines well with ginger, garlic, and sesame. You can find mugwort noodles and mochi in stores, and if you have your own supply of mugwort, try making this spicy spring soup. You’ll kill two birds with one weed.
1 medium onion, chopped
Olive oil for sautéing
4 cups vegetable broth
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
4 cups tender, young mugwort leaves, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- Sauté onion in olive oil until softened.
- Add vegetable broth, potato pieces, and 2 cups chopped mugwort leaves.
- Bring to a boil, and simmer until the potato is soft.
- Add 2 more cups of chopped mugwort leaves and the almond milk, then simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, and let cool, then process until smooth with a food processor or an immersion blender.
Mugwort ID: the underside of mugwort leaves is bright white.
— Ellen Zachos
Ellen Zachos leads foraging walks and currently teaches at the New York Botanical Garden, where she received her certification in commercial horticulture and ethnobotany. She writes two blogs, which can be found at downanddirtygardening.com and gardenbytes.com and has written numerous gardening books and contributed to publications, including Horticulture and Better Homes & Gardens.
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