Red Mustard Pairings

Red Mustard in garden 5:17The prettiest vegetable in the spring kitchen garden right now is the overwintered red mustard. Purple is actually a more accurate description of the color, violet purple with gorgeous purple-green variegation, but the variety growing in my garden is called Red Giant. I’ve also grown the more accurately named Osaka Purple, but I’ve found that Red Giant is more winter hardy than Osaka Purple. It survived the repeated cold spells of the past winter in a drafty hoop house with hay mulch around its base. Now robust and big-leafed with new growth, it’s a treat for the eye.

It’s also a treat for the palate. The Fedco description of Red Giant’s flavor says: “Tastes like horseradish to some, peppery to others.” The horseradish flavor, actually closer to wasabi than horseradish, is why we like it so much.

Another treat is that these huge and flavorful leaves are surprisingly tender. Removed from the stalk, rinsed and sliced into rough squares, a pile of enormous leaves will wilt down quickly in olive oil and garlic, transforming into a spicy sauté, delicious alone but also wonderful with sweet or salty flavors.

Red mustard pile on island

Red Mustard saute

With the abundance of mustard in the garden now, I’ve been experimenting with red mustard pairings. One night, asparagus, fresh from the garden and roasted, provided an earthy, sweet counterpoint to the spicy mustard.

Red Mustard & Asparagus platter

The next night I used beans for sweetness. For salty, I fried some bacon, wilted the mustard in the bacon fat and combined all the flavors into a pasta sauce. Delicious!

Red Mustard, bacon beans in skillet

Another night, mustard and bacon mixed together formed a side dish for orzo and asparagus.

Red Mustard and orzo

A few nights later, I combined eggs, a little grated Parmesan cheese and sautéed red mustard for a creamy, soft frittata. On the side, some sweet roasted pears, roasted and frozen last fall, were a perfect pairing.

Red Mustard fritatta

We’ll keep experimenting with red mustard leaves and soon will add the lovely, chartreuse-colored mustard flower buds to the mix. Like the leaves, they are tender and full of mustard flavor, perfect for pairing with more sweet and salty flavors.


6 thoughts on “Red Mustard Pairings

  1. OMG as they say, beautiful and all sounding so scrumptious and delicious. Knowing you, it was! These past few days have the island in a tizzy of happiness – hopefully your island too! Your garden must be dancing with joy! xoxo

  2. thank you for all those lovely recipes.I will have to look around for the mustard seed it hopefully will grow here in the UK

  3. Debby,
    As always, such an inspiring post; thank you! I have no experience with Giant Red, but I planted some last month and now have a few tiny, delicious leaves for salad. I didn’t know about over-wintering! I shall try to do that. When do you usually plant them?

    Thanks again!

    • Thanks, Lyn!

      There’s growing information in this earlier post on red mustard:
      “I plant them in late summer, August 9th and 24th this past year, in rows about eighteen inches apart, the tiny seeds about four inches apart. They germinate and grow quickly. When the leaves reach salad size, I thin the plants to about a foot apart and mulch them. They continue to grow and by October frosts they are chard size and ready to mulch more heavily. They survive winter temperatures in the low twenties and high teens if covered with a tarp or double layers of Reemay and continue to grow vigorously when temperatures warm and daylight increases. “

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