Wild Garlic Pesto
Wild garlic abounds in our garden. It's growing on the driveway, at the front door step, around the trees to the side of the drive, in the little bit earth next to the patio - there's plenty of it! I've no idea where it came from or how it's spread so much - it's probably something to do with those lovely flowers that come out in May.
I've been meaning to find things to do with it for ages so this Easter break I decided to head off and forage for a pile from the garden. Having done the briefest of google searches, I found lots of recipes for wild garlic pesto. This seemed pretty accessible and achievable, and didn't require a shopping trip for obscure companion ingredients.
I made use of the recipe not so much for the ingredients list but for the amounts - I wasn't sure how much wild garlic to how much oil, for example, so the recipes were a good guide in that respect. I played about with the actual ingredients, however, adjusting to what we had in the house and what was available in the shops. The recipe I chose was simple and straightforward and I found it on the River Cottage website, but there's plenty of other recipes to choose from and this one seems pretty standard, so should offer a decent guide for your wild garlic pesto making.
I'll give you the recipe as it stood and then I'll let you know what I changed:
Makes one small jar
50g Wild Garlic leaves, washed
30g Pignuts, sliced and briefly toasted in a little oil in a frying pan
30g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
80ml olive oil, plus extra to cover
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toast the nuts in a pan, put all the ingredients bar the oil into a food processor and blitz, then gradually drizzle in the olive oil. It'll look like it's never going to take all the oil but keep going, it does!
The swaps that I made were based on what felt like reasonable equivalents, going on the basis of my knowledge of classic pesto recipes, and feeling like I could tweak them without too much incident.
I switched the olive oil for Scottish rapeseed oil, swapped the parmesan for pecorino, and substituted the cob nuts (not sure where I'd find those here!) for pine nuts. So, as you can see, nothing earth-shattering in terms of changes.
The toasting pine nuts smelled amazing - not nutty but more like freshly cooked popcorn. Deeeeelish!
Once I'd rinsed and dried off the wild garlic leaves, I popped the nuts, grated cheese and garlic into a hand blender and blitzed away till everything was finely chopped. You can leave it at a courser chop if you want, it's really a personal preference. Once that's blitzed to your taste, then start to drizzle in the oil and soon you will have pesto! It's that easy. I popped mine into a freshly washed jar, poured over a little more oil to help it keep fresh, and then put it in the fridge where it should keep for several weeks. I'm reliably informed it will also freeze very nicely too, which is really handy.
So there you have it - a simple and easy way to use up that wild garlic that seems to be growing like a weed in your garden. Apparently it makes a lovely soup too.
And if you want to do more with your wild garlic, then this website has a few more tasty suggestions for using it up, including risotto and tear-and-share bread. Enjoy!