Sunday, 17 February 2013

Themes of wild garlic pesto

3 weeks back the Chap and I went for our first forage of the year and were pleased to see the wild garlic sprouting already. We’ve been meaning to go back since but have variously been deterred by rain, being busy and watching the opening 2 weekends of the 6 nations rugby. So today, it being reasonably sunny (though very windy) and lacking in rugby fixtures we made the trip and found a lot more of the garlic has come up.
As a contrast this is the same area I pictured last time, you can see many more of the shoots have unfurled properly, and the river has taken its rightful place within it’s banks again! There were also plants all the way along this stretch that weren’t in evidence last visit so we should have plenty to keep us going this year.
So we stocked up and came back with about 300g of the stuff. We’re wild garlic pesto aficionado’s and made a few batches once we got home trying out using hazelnuts as well as the standard pine nuts and adding lemon juice to some. I think the lemon juice really lifts the mix and I’m a big fan of that version. Otherwise I did prefer the pine nut version to the hazelnut one. I also made one batch with half basil and half wild garlic as I had some fresh basil in the fridge to be used up which was lovely. So with this many herbs I’m going to enter this into this month’s Herbs on a Saturday over at Lavender and Lovage. Having just nipped over there I’ve also found that serendipitously this month there is a mini-theme of foraging!  :-)
We’ve adapted our pesto from the HFW recipe in his Hedgerow book which incidentally is a good read as are the seashore and mushroom ones in that series.

Wild garlic pesto and variants thereof - for a small batch that fills a 200g-ish size jar:
50g wild garlic, rinsed well of any mud etc
30g pine nuts / hazelnuts
30g parmesan / veggie version
80ml olive oil + a little extra
S + P
10ml lemon juice – if using
Toast off your nuts gently. Pine nuts I do in a dry pan, for the hazelnuts we added a little oil as they’re less naturally oily than the pine nuts.
Rough grate the parmesan and place it, the nuts, garlic and salt and pepper in your FP and blend.
During blending pour in the olive oil. Taste and adjust, it may need more salt than you think to bring the flavours out but it’s always best to err on the side of caution to begin with.
With the motor running once more add the lemon juice. You can do this in 5ml increments if you want until it’s pleasing to your own taste. I made one batch deliberately more lemony as that’s my favourite.
Pour into a sterilised jar and tap sharply on the counter top to encourage it to settle and remove any air bubbles.
Lastly drizzle a little more oil over the top to ensure it’s sealed from the air then store in the fridge.
For my basil and garlic version I had just over 25g of basil so just made it half and half with the garlic and used pine nuts and the lemon juice. We had some straight away on a hardboiled egg with a little sea salt sprinkled on and it was divine!
This is also very good with cheese and crackers, stirred through pasta or one of my favourites – smeared on top of the cheese on toast before grilling to melt the cheese. I think it could also work with spinach and feta in a pie, drizzled into the top of soup, tossed with new potatoes for a salad; there’s a myriad of uses.
If you have a patch of wild garlic local to you this is well worth making and works out pretty cheap. The garlic is nuppence and although pine nuts and the cheese are more pricy you only use a little of them. Try it and you’ll be a convert too!!


  1. I spotted some nice fresh wild garlic shoots last weekend so thanks for the reminder - I definitely need to go out gathering. I think lemon is a lovely addition - it freshens the taste in a way that I really like.

  2. I must say I think I'll add lemon as standard from now on, we're ending up putting it in to the jars we left it out of anyway! Enjoy. :-)

  3. A fabulous post and also an inspirational recipe too! Many thanks for entering this into Herbs on Saturday and welcome to the challenge. I cannot wait to see my wild garlic shooting up.....they are a little late this year, also love the addition of the lemon. Karen

    1. Thank you! Love getting out foraging and wild garlic's got to be one of the easy ones to find being fairly common. Do try the lemon in it - makes all the difference. :-)

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  4. What a productive forage! Little pots of herby gorgeousness - how wonderful!

    1. We're lucky with the mild weather here, plenty to find! Worth a try, sooo tasty. :-)

  5. A gorgeous post (and a well-deserved winner!) I can't wait to make some with wild leeks too (my back garden is rampant with them), but waiting for them to come into flower. The wait is killing me!

    1. I won?! Wow - I hadn't seen until I read your comment. Blimey! Hope your wild leeks are ready soon, I've never made anything with them so I'd be very interested to see what you do with them. Thank you for popping past and taking the time to comment. :-)


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