Wild Garlic Pesto with Parmesan and Lemon

If you go walking in the woods and notice a familiar, slightly garlicy smell, then it is likely you are near a patch of allium ursinum, more commonly known as Wild Garlic. This distant relative to the onion grows between late March and July in moist woodland throughout Europe and Asia, and is perfect if you are looking for something to forage. Note: please ensure that when you forage in the wild you are doing so within the confines of the law and always bearing in mind the responsible foraging guidelines set out by The Woodland Trust.

Ever since I was a young girl I have wanted to try a recipe using wild garlic, and so when I found a section of our local woodland blanketed in the smooth green leaves, I grabbed a bag and went foraging. When foraging wild garlic it is important to take leaves from different patches, don’t leave one patch bare. Do NOT pull up the bulbs of the plant, this is illegal, instead just break the leaves off at the base of their stem.

Once you have foraged a good amount of wild garlic, the picture on the right came to about 300g, it is important you wash it thoroughly, particularly if your garlic grows along a popular dog walking path! I ran the leaves under the cold tap until all traces of dirt were gone. Then I piled the leaves on a kitchen towel, placed another towel on top and let the leaves sit to dry. You may need to change the towels and dab the leaves with some kitchen roll as they can hold quite a bit of water.

Ingredients

  • 300g wild garlic
  • 75-100g parmesan
  • 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 100g toasted pine nuts
  • 300ml rapeseed oil
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Once the leaves are dry, don’t worry if they are ever so slightly damp, place them in a large food processor with a squeeze of lemon juice and whizz until they look finely chopped.
  2. Add in the rapeseed oil and blend until combined.
  3. Squeeze in the rest of the lemon juice, the parmesan, the garlic and the pine nuts. Blend the mixture together, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula every now and then, until the desired consistency is reached.
  4. Taste your pesto and add salt, lemon juice or oil as needed.
  5. Once you are happy with your pesto spoon it into glass jars and drizzle a little olive oil over the top.
  6. It can then be frozen straight away or kept in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Tips

I find the pesto made with only wild garlic quite intense. If I made this again I would probably add in 150g of basil leaves for every 150g of wild garlic. On the other hand my husband loved this recipe and doesn’t want it to change!

If you do find the taste too intense try mixing in a little crème fraîche or soured cream into the pesto before you add it to pasta.

The more parmesan you have the drier your pesto will be. I used 100g of parmesan in my recipe and it was drier than expected. Although delicious I would probably use 75-80g next time for a smoother consistency. Don’t forget you can always add but you can’t take away.

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