Malcolm McDowell Woods

Pantry Raid! Give it some mustard (and we’re not talking the nasty yellow stuff)

By - Apr 1st, 2010 04:00 am
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Diana Sieger and Carrie Rowe

There aren’t many things we can commit to memory — does that happen to everyone in their 30s?

But when we can remember why we walked into the kitchen, there are a few recipes that come to us, as if from the cosmos, and they often involve mustard. Who would have guessed? No written recipes here; just simple inspiration from the jars and bottles in our pantry or refrigerator door. Not sure why mustard has a magical hold on us, other than being our favorite condiment, but we’re grateful for it when it makes dinner preparation so easy.

If we say ‘mustard’ and you think immediately of the dandelion yellow stuff in a squeeze bottle, then you’re really missing out. There are more than 40 varieties of mustard plants and all parts — seeds, leaves and flowers — are edible. Originally hailing from the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Himalayas, mustard plants have truly taken root in the U.S. and are grown in nearly every state.

And while we really love mustard a whole lot, enthusiastic eaters from generations long ago were just as enamored (or even more so) with the tiny, unassuming seeds. In 17th-century France, strict laws protected mustard producers, making it a crime for anyone else to make the highly respected sauce. Queen Victoria had a personal mustard maker in 1866 (the founder of Colman’s mustard that is still being made today) and Pope John XXII created a new position at the Vatican: mustard maker to the pope.

Much of this admiration is due to the many medicinal properties attributed to mustard. Used to treat everything from toothache to bronchitis to poisoning at the hand of your enemy, all parts of the mighty mustard plant seem to come in handy for one ailment or another.

Where’s the nutrition? Right here!
Mustard seeds are a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as calcium, dietary fiber, iron, manganese, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, protein, selenium and zinc. For all you asthma folks out there (Diana!) you’d be interested to know that selenium and magnesium are nutrients that have been shown to help reduce asthma symptoms. We’re also pretty keen on magnesium’s ability to lower blood pressure and stimulate digestion. What’s more, mustard is being studied for potential benefits to sufferers of migraines and menopause symptoms.
Oh, and did we mention that it’s freaking delicious?

Simple salmon with mustard crust

We’re pretty big on omega -3’s, especially when they’re delivered in a package as tasty as the wild Alaskan salmon from Outpost. To make this recipe you’ll need just four ingredients: enough salmon for you and your dining pals (about a half pound per person), some sort of mustard (although yellow would be a bummer), olive oil and bread crumbs. If we can remember that, you certainly can too.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Line a baking dish with foil, grease the foil with a little oil. Put the salmon in the dish, skin side down.
  3. Mix together two parts mustard (we especially like locally-made Silver Spring Dill Mustard!) to one part olive oil in a small bowl. If you have fresh parsley or other herbs hanging around, chop some and add to the mixture.
  4. Season the salmon with a little salt and pepper then spread the mustard mixture all over the top (skinless side), pat on some breadcrumbs (optional, really) and pop it in the oven for 10 to 20 minutes (one pound will be about 20 minutes total but thin cuts require less time). The center should spring back to the touch when it’s done.


Orecchiette with mustard and 

We are in madly love with pasta — don’t judge us. Orecchiette is our favorite with this recipe, but not required. Gluten-free, whole wheat or other small pasta shapes work just as well. We find it hard to resist anything that translates into “little ears” (orecchiette = little ears in Italian). This recipe is crazy easy to remember.

1 pound of pasta
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 tablespoons of Dijon mustard (the grainier the better!)
Handful of parsley, chopped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan

  1. Bring a large pot of (salted) water to the boil. Drop in the pasta and after five minutes, add the cauliflower.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the garlic, mustard, parsley and a good glug of olive oil together in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Before draining the pasta and cauliflower, scoop out ½ cup of pasta water and add to the mustard mixture. Proceed to draining and add the pasta and cauliflower to the mustard bowl.
  4. Mix well and top with grated Parmesan (toasted bread crumbs are also fantastic at this stage).

Honey mustard tofu

Simple, satisfying and truly some of the best tofu we’ve ever eaten. We hesitate to even call this a recipe it’s so easy. The resulting tofu is fantastic served warm with a spinach salad (drizzle on some honey mustard vinaigrette), over soba noodles or brown rice. If you’re not exactly channeling the spirit of June Cleaver, eat it straight from the pan with a bottle of your favorite brew.

1 pound firm tofu
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ cup (or so) flour
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cut tofu into two-inch by two-inch squares. Wrap in a clean kitchen towel and weigh down with a heavy pot to remove water.
  2. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Combine honey, mustard and one tablespoon olive oil in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
  4. Combine flour, salt and pepper in a second bowl.
  5. Dip tofu pieces in honey mustard mixture, covering all sides.
  6. Dip coated tofu in flour and shake off excess.
  7. Sauté in frying pan till both sides are golden brown and crispy.

Middleton home to National Mustard Museum
While we were discussing this month’s mustard recipes around the lunch table, Outpost’s friendly neighborhood nutritionist Judy Mayer walked in and proclaimed her love of mustard (talk about an expert opinion). And more importantly, she enlightened us to the fact that Wisconsin is the proud home of the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, just northwest of Madison! Needless to say, we’ll be paying our mustard mates a visit real soon!

We’re thanking our friends at WMSE from the bottom of our hearts even more this month than usual. In the spirit of all things community powered, local, cooperative and generally just good for you, WMSE 91.7 is graciously joining us in hosting a killer party to celebrate Outpost’s 40th birthday and you’re all invited!

Join us Saturday April 17, at the Todd Wehr Auditorium on the campus of MSOE – we’ve been waiting 40 years for a party like this and can’t wait to see you all there!

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