We love to get out and grow veg and stalk around the woods looking for wild foods. Fresh food is one of life’s greatest pleasures and it saddens me when I don’t get enough time to cook and eat well. That’s why I love recipes like this one. I can preserve that special flavour of wild food & have it on hand to make lunches for when we are at work. As I eat it there’s a bridge between the mundane & the magic of the woods.
If you have never picked any wild garlic I really recommend it. Wherever you live in the UK I bet you’re not far from a patch of the stinky stuff. It grows in shady spots & can be found in lots of parks. If you’re not sure about picking wild foods & worry you might poison yourself this is a great plant to start with as you really can’t get it wrong. It really smells like garlic. As you pick the leaves you will smell it straight away.
The basic rules of foraging are that you never take more than 20% of the item — this is not a problem with wild garlic as it is so prolific. You wont be taking anything from wildlife as most insects and mammals wont eat it. It is also very hardy, you can’t really wreck the plant. This is actually a real guilt free food.
Once you have some, make sure to wash it well & then treat it like a leafy herb such as coriander. It doesn’t stand up to much cooking, best added as a garnish. It’s great in herb butters, with eggs, fish & vegetables. This pesto recipe is a fab way to preserve it and enjoy the flavour long after the season is over
Wild Garlic Pesto Recipe
100g wild garlic leaves
75g Crushed roasted hazelnuts (or other nut if you prefer)
1/2–1 tsp Salt
150ml Olive oil
1. Make sure the garlic leaves are clean & put them in a blender. Add three quarters of the olive oil, hazelnuts, salt & cheese. Blitz everything really well.
2. Now taste the pesto & add the rest of the ingredients as required. You may find you need more cheese as I had a particularly pungent Parmesan. Basically adjust the taste to suit you.
3. Store in a glass jar & pour a little olive oil over the surface of the pesto to stop oxidisation.
It should keep for a while as the oil preserves the garlic leaves. Enjoy with pasta & pizzas, in sandwiches, with potatoes & drizzled into soup.