Recipe: Wild Garlic Pesto
Published: 22 February 2019
A pungent seasonal (and vegan!) pesto from Brigit-Anna McNeill
The smell of wild garlic in the woods right now is just divine. The leaves squeak under my feet and the air smells of life.
On a walk through Sharpham's Great Wood I delighted in filling my basket with beautiful wild garlic leaves and potent nettles.
I love making pesto with wild garlic, nettles and seeds, pounding it all together in a heavy pestle and mortar in Sharpham's Woodland Campsite kitchen, with foraging groups, or whizzing it up in a blender at home.
Pesto doesn’t have to be just on pasta, you can mix it in a beautiful risotto along with other wild greens and lemon juice, add it to soups, use as a veggie burger relish or put onto pizza.
There is so much you can do with wild garlic and you can eat it all - leaves, roots, buds and flowers. For some people the intense hit of garlic is too much. For myself? I just love it!
I love the flavour and the smell - it just smells of health and vibrancy!
If it is too much for you I would recommend cooking it as this immediately softens the flavour and mellows it out to a soft background lull.
Wild garlic is such a beneficial plant to have in your diet as it helps to cleanse the blood, ward off infections and boost the immune system.
I like to try and find subtle and easy ways in which I can have it every day throughout the Spring.
Such as making a vinegar with it or an oil that I can add to meals every day.
To make the pesto
You will need seeds or nuts of some kind. I love pumpkin and sunflower for their cheapness or walnuts and hazelnuts for their richness.
I also love to toast the nuts or seeds first in a hot pan.
You can place the nuts/seeds in a blender adding your wild garlic leaves, a good pinch of salt, glugs of olive oil and the juice of one lemon.
Be careful when gathering wild garlic
At this time of the year, young wild garlic leaves and the young leaves of the poisonous Lords-and-Ladies plant (Arum Maculatum) can be easily confused.
They often grow close to each other, and are similar in colour and texture, so be especially attentive when foraging.
TIP: The Lords-and-Ladies leaves WON'T smell of garlic