Updated: Jun 6
Wild Garlic Pesto! (simple)
You can smell it before you see it! Growing in small or very large patches in mainly damp, well-drained soil, shady woodlands and stream banks across Britain, wild garlic (Allium ursinum) leaves grow between February and July (earlier in the south of England) and will flower April until July. The best time to pick (or neatly cut) is before it flowers, as the 'floppy bunny-ears style' leaf is at its prime flavour and has not gone past its best. Its best is when the leaves feel rubbery and plump with a light green colour. When past it best, the leaves are slightly whilted, harder, very large, flowers are in seed and full of bite marks!
WARNING: Do Not confuse with Lords-and-Ladies, Hart's Tongue fern or Dog's Mercury which are poisonous! Use a wild flower identification guide to help you. Bruising the leaves with a strong smell of garlic as a result will also help you.
Allium ursinum - Wild Garlic - The genus 'Allium' is the latin word for garlic, with hundreds of other cultivated flowering species such as onion, shallots, chives and leeks giving a similar flavour. Allium sativum means 'cultivated garlic'.
To fill a 190g jar
100 g Wild garlic leaves (finely chopped)
50 g parmesan cheese (grated)
olive oil / extra virgin olive oil/hemp oil
50 g toasted nuts (pine, sunflower or walnuts)
half a lemon (juice only)
Coarse sea salt (best)
1. Thoroughly wash your wild garlic leaves, drain well
2. Cut off the stalks which meet the leaves
3. Lighty toast your chopped nuts under the grill, until lightly golden brown
4. In the meantime, finely chop your wild garlic using a sharp knife (!be careful!).
5. Blitz in a food blender/processor with a little coarse sea salt (to grind better), until a mushier texture, pulse blend
5. Add some oil (about 1 tablespoon) and pulse blend again
6. Add the chopped nuts and 1 tablespoon oil, pulse blend again
7. Finally, add the parmesan and half lemon juice, pulse blend, until pesto becomes lighter in colour.
8. Add to a 190g sterilised jar (first use boiling water shaken in and released from jar and lid) using a tablespoon to pour in (use a silicone spatula to get the entire lot out!)
9. Tightly close lid, place filled pesto jar in washing up bowl of hot water (about half way up the jar), to seal the lid and retain freshness!
Serve on toasted bread with a cherry tomato, mix in hot pasta, oatcakes or stuff chicken breasts with melted cheese. With of course, a fresh rocket salad, chives, primrose flower heads and drizzle with balsamic vinegar... serve with friends!