Wild garlic is a pretty, perennial plant, a cousin of the onion, that grows in moist woodland areas in the UK and most of Europe. I love the delicate aroma that lingers in the air as one walks where it grows. I smile as I detect the aroma, which usually precedes the exciting sight of it. As with all foraged food, I become a giddy, excitable child when I pick it, knowing that I will later wallow in the pleasure of enhancing my meals with it. I am in constant awe of the abundance of plants that we can eat on this beautiful planet we share.
The unashamedly feminine, wild garlic plant is often found growing alongside bluebells, which makes for a wonderful colour-coordinated sight, and is at its best during spring. The whole plant is edible, and the pretty, white, star- shaped flowers can be used to adorn salads, turning a simple bowl of green leaves into an aesthetically pleasing restaurant worthy side dish. I have a favourite walk close to my home that takes in bucolic sights, and follows the meandering shape of the River Waveney. There, you can find plenty of wild garlic to pick and take home to make your very own pesto. I found a recipe for wild garlic pesto recently, and made it with a couple of amendments, using ingredients I had. I think you will love the result; I did, and I am delighted my pickings gave me enough to be able to freeze a couple of jars of it for later use!
Use the pesto whichever way you wish. I love it mixed through a bowl of freshly cooked pasta, or a couple of teaspoons of it as a final ingredient on top of a casserole, or soup. It’s also great in a mozzarella and tomato sandwich, or smeared over fish before cooking. Don’t let me influence you too much though, as the excitement is in the experimenting. Whichever way you use it, its earthy, wholesome taste won’t disappoint.
- Around 100g of wild garlic leaves, washed, and dried with a clean tea towel
- 20g pecan nuts
- 20 g hazelnuts
- A handful of freshly grated Parmesan
- 125ml of extra virgin olive oil
- A good pinch each of salt and freshly ground pepper.
Cut up the wild garlic leaves into smaller pieces. Add everything except the seasoning to a food processor or blender and blitz until it is more or less processed but still retains a grainy texture. Now gradually season to taste and keep blitzing and adjusting, and once you have your desired balance, give it one last blitz. It will keep in the fridge for a good week or so, and you can freeze what you want to.