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Ancient Roman Mustard

roman mustard recipe

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

The Romans are the first to be credited with making mustard in the way we know it today. Earlier civilizations, notably China and Egypt, used mustard seeds whole as spices.

This recipe is adapted from Apicius, and it is about 2,000 years old.

The result is a heady mustard — I used black mustard seeds, which are stronger than normal American mustard — balanced by the richness of the nuts. It’s almost like a peanut butter-mustard mix, with a little vinegar tossed in. It is excellent with roasted or cold meats.

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1 cup black or brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, chopped
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2-3 teaspoons salt

 

  1. Grind the whole mustard seeds for a few seconds in a spice or coffee grinder, or by hand with a mortar and pestle. You want them mostly whole. Add the chopped nuts and grind into a paste.
  2. Move everything to a bowl and add the salt and cold water. Mix well and let stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Pour in the vinegar and stir well. When the vinegar is incorporated, pour into a glass jar and store in the fridge. Wait at least 24 hours before using. Mustard made this way will last several months in the fridge.

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