I’m going to call it and say that we are on the edge of Spring now and about to catapult into what will probably be the strangest Summer yet for a lot of us. I have been seeing the wild garlic spring up for the last few months, their delicate, pointy leaves looking gorgeous scalloped on top of each other, creating an intensely green, dense carpet on the forest floor. Recently, as the mild chive-like smell has become more pungent and the flowers have popped out, I decided it was time to do some foraging.
Wild garlic (also known as ramsons) has become more and more popular over the years and are fairly easy to find, scattered in broad clumps in deciduous woodland areas or in our case, by the river bank. Just make sure you apply the golden rule of ‘thirds’ and make sure you only take one third of the plant, leaving two thirds behind.
The only thing I’ve ever personally cooked with wild garlic is pesto and it is incredible. It has such a kick to it and your breath will stink for days after you’ve eaten it, but it’s a great way to get people to stick to the 2 metre social distancing rules. It’s delicious thrown with pasta, swirled through soups or even just in a cheese toastie. The world is your oyster. It should last for a couple of weeks in the fridge but make sure the jar you put it into is spotlessly clean!
- 150g wild garlic leaves
- 50g pine nuts, toasted
- 1 unwaxed lemon, zest and juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 50g parmesan
- 1 garlic clove (not entirely necessary but I’m a garlic fiend so more is more for me!)
- 1 small bunch curly parsley
- black pepper, to taste
- 75ml olive oil
- 75ml rapeseed oil
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
To make this vegan, you can substitute the parmesan for nutritional yeast. You can also use any mixture of nuts from almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios and hazelnuts or even seeds, pumpkin, hemp or sunflower would work well!
- Wash the wild garlic leaves really well and let them dry off. You can eat the flowers but I’d recommend just using the leaves for the pesto and then using the flowers as a garnish!
- Toast the pine nuts in a frying pan on a medium heat, watch them like a hawk because they burn very easily so keep stirring them. Allow them to cool down completely before blending in the pesto.
- Place all the ingredients into a food processor and mix until they’re fully combined.
- Give it a taste and add more salt, pepper, chilli flakes or lemon juice so it suits your taste, remember you can always add more in but you can’t take it away!
- Transfer the pesto to a clean jar and top with an extra tablespoon of olive oil to prevent mould from setting in, and enjoy!