Recipe – Wild Garlic Pesto

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Another wild garlic recipe, but when it grows so freely and tastes so good, why not?

A number of you have asked for my wild garlic pesto recipe so here it is. I will however begin with a disclaimer – my attitude to recipes is quite basic. I am not the kind of person who follows a recipe to the letter, weighing out ingredients and following the instructions carefully. I think of a recipe like Captain Jack thinks of the Pirate’s Code – thems more guidelines than actual rules. I use a recipe as a springboard, substituting things I don’t have or that are expensive to buy for things that are already in my cupboards, or perhaps using up leftovers or gluts from my garden. The joy of cooking for me lies in the mess and abundance of it all. You won’t find any fat-free ingredients or over-sanitised, calorie-restricted, one-clove-of-garlic-is-sufficient meals coming out of my kitchen.

So with that in mind, I am not going to start by telling you to go out and pick exactly 100g of wild garlic –  go out and enjoy picking just as much as you like. And then open your store cupboard and gather the rest of your ingredients together. You will need:

INGREDIENTS

  • wild garlic leaves, well-washed
  • nuts of your choice. I like a combination of almonds and cashews, but walnuts work very well too if you like a stronger flavour
  • hard Italian cheese or other cheese of your liking (I chose Parmesan)
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

METHOD

  1. Weigh out your well-washed garlic.  I went into a bit of a wild garlic picking frenzy and ended up with a mountain of about 600g and a no-longer-visible kitchen unit. This is a ridiculous amount and for reference, it made 8 jars of dense, thick pesto…. But for ease of understanding lets say you did pick 100g.
  2. You need half the quantity of nuts and cheese per quantity of garlic. So if you picked 100g of garlic you need 50g of nuts and 50g of cheese. If you look again at my ingredients list you’ll see I haven’t specified which type of nuts or cheese. Pick your favourites! I use half almonds half cashews and Parmesan cheese but you may only like cheddar – it’s entirely up to you.
  3. Roughly chop the garlic leaves by grabbing a big bunch of them, as many as you can hold in your non-chopping hand, and slicing them all together. Put all your garlic into a food processor or a large bowl with a stick blender and process it into a rough pulp. It should considerably decrease in size. If you really want to be traditional and have lots of free time you can actually do this with a pestle and mortar… No, I don’t have time for that either!
  4. Add your nuts and blitz again.
  5. Grate your cheese into the bowl and mix together. You should have a thick, tasty mixture.
  6. Marvel at how green it is.
  7. Add your olive oil a little bit at a time, blitzing in between additions, until you have reached the consistency you like. I like to leave mine quite thick as you get more per jar, but again it’s up to you.
  8. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Try not to eat it all at once.

And that’s all there is to it. I use it on absolutely everything, on pasta, in sandwiches, as a dip, on meat. It’s worth noting that you can omit the cheese entirely if you wish to, using only wild garlic, nuts and oil. It makes a particularly good barbecue marinade in this case!

If you make enough to store, remember to thoroughly sterilise your jars using hot water (you can put them in the dishwasher!) or brewing steriliser before you fill them. Once you have decanted the pesto into the jar, pour enough olive oil over the top to create a seal. With this, it stores well in the fridge for a few weeks! Or if you ended up with 8 jars like me, you can pop some in the freezer.

Happy eating.

Bryony x

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