Free ingredients feel cheekily delicious. Whether its that buy one get one free packet of salad, that suspect lemon that apparently didn’t scan in the hands of the conveniently incompetent cashier or, in this case, the hand foraged bunch of wild garlic my sensitive foodie nose kindly led me to on a country walk this Easter. Growing in the hedgerow and just dying to be plucked and cooked these leaves are fragrant with a garlic punch.
Wild garlic should be treated more like a herb- a hardier basil. It can be sauteed in butter but not cooked as hard as a cabbage. I decided to make pesto which can be made in a pestle and mortar and I always find this satisfying and a lovely idea where you really can adjust the consistency, taste and vitally the texture to your own preference steadily and carefully. However my solid granite pestle and mortar weights a tonne and after a long day at work and a run home I wasn’t in need of a weigh session or the horrors of having to unsuccessfully scrape my delicious pesto creation into a bowl and wash up my granite weight. So….shamefully the magi mix came out to do the job for me. I bought a beautiful Godess-like pot of bushy Greek basil on the way home today and couldn’t resist adding a handful to the mix as a nod to the classic pesto but go easy as it is punchy and will overpower the beautiful garlic leaves if added too heavy handidly.
Enjoy with – roasted fish, meats, roasted sweet potato jackets, mixed into pasta sauces, stirred into soups, mixed in salad dressings. I served mine here with pan fried seabass and red camargue rice.
Makes a small bowlful (depending on the amount of oil)
- 100g wild garlic leaves, cleaned if foraged
- Optional – a small handful of basil leaves
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 50g finely grated Parmesan
- 50g pine nuts, lightly toasted (or walnuts)
- Salt and pepper
- Lemon juice
- Olive/rapeseed oil (up to 150ml. See note*)
- First, if foraged from the bushes, carefully wash the garlic leaves in cold water and pat dry or spin dry in an old school salad leaf drier.
- Place in a food processor with the pine nuts, garlic and basil (if using). Blend until chopped finely.
- Add the cheese and season.
- Now slowly drizzle in the oil until you get the desired consistency. I think I used about 2 tbsp for mine.
- Alternatively, bash the leaves with the nuts in a pestle and mortar before adding the cheese and stirring in the oil.
- Add seasoning to taste and adjust with whatever you think it needs, a hint of lemon juice perhaps!
NOTE* – the amount of oil will depend on a few things but I personally like my pesto thick as its more concentrated and punchy in flavour and healthier as it uses less oil. It will also depend on how long you want to keep it. If you plan on storing in your fridge for a bit, pop into a sterilised jar and make sure there is enough oil to cover and seal it from exposure and oxidation.