RECIPE: A walk in the woods - Wild Garlic Pesto

My country walk today resulted in the picking of wild garlic, or as chefs like to call it Ramsons. It is prolific in England’s woods between April and June. It is now at its very best and is young, fresh and vibrant, with lovely bell like white flowers. Incidentally, it is said that the flowers are delicious in salads.
Foraging is something I have previously been too time poor to enjoy; I can now however testify to the wholesome satisfaction of bringing home a small bag of pungent leafy joy and turning it into a simple meal.
So here goes my recipe for wild garlic pesto. This will make enough to fill a normal sized jam jar and can easily feed 6 to 8 people.

Ingredients

Wild Garlic Pesto 

Yield: 1 jam jar

Ingredients

100g leaves 

50g fine grated parmesan

50g pine nuts 

200ml olive oil

Squeeze lemon juice

Salt to taste

Notes on ingredients 

Leaves – pick the bright young green ones – I suggest going slightly off the track and picking from a variety of places, do wash carefully.

Parmesan – as with all the other ingredients try to use good quality.

Pine nuts – can happily be substituted for walnuts or hazelnuts

Olive oil – this really is a matter of taste but again, buy the best you can or use your favourite.

Salt – I use Maldon and think that any sea salt works really well here.

Lemon – this helps the pesto stay green and fresh.

There is excellent advice available on all things wild garlic and how to forage over on the Countryfile website.

Method

Fill the sink with fresh cold water and a dash of salt. Immerse the leaves and wash them and then put them into a colander and shake them dry. I put a clean tea towel over the top and shake them vigorously followed by gentle pat dry of the leaves.

Then using a food processor place the leaves in first and give a quick whizz for about 30 seconds, scrape down the sides add in the parmesan and nuts and whizz for a further 30 seconds.

Again scrape down the sides and then add in half the olive oil and lemon juice, whizz again until a desired consistency is achieved. I like mine a little coarse. Then add in the rest of the olive oil and salt until the consistency and taste you prefer is achieved. Remember it will thicken in the fridge when chilled.

Now you can use the pesto sauce when and how you would like. We had it on fresh pappardelle the first night. It also makes a great addition to a grilled cheddar sandwich or a topping on an omelette. The wild garlic pesto will keep refrigerated for at least a week. If you want to go upmarket then mix a spoon of it with breadcrumbs and top off your salmon steak. It is also great through crushed new potatoes. My youngest daughters’ eternal favourite is chicken with wild garlic pesto pasta. I use spiral pasta with leftover and skinless roast chicken.

All in all, a satisfying and endlessly rewarding walk, the kids will enjoy this too.

"Prolific in woods across the country between April and June, it is now at its very best - young fresh and vibrant, with lovely bell like white flowers".