If you're lucky enough to live near some woodland, a walk along any shady path at the moment will be flanked by a carpet of dark green leaves and a sprinkling of starry white flowers. You certainly won't be able to miss the unmistakeable scent of wild garlic, like the freshest, fruitiest garlic you can imagine. The leaves bring life to salads and sandwiches and are best torn rather than cut, as they oxidise and turn black in the same way that basil does. Heating tends to turn wild garlic bitter, so add them to your plate at the table, or stir through food off the heat. You can also eat the flowers, which look gorgeous scattered over almost anything.
My favourite way to enjoy wild garlic is to make it into a rustic pesto, substituting the leaves for the traditional clove of garlic. Because the leaves have less punch, I find this pesto lets the basil really shine. If you would like to make wild garlic the king of the dish, just use all wild garlic leaves instead.
Wild Garlic Pesto
10-12 wild garlic leaves, thoroughly washed and torn into pieces
85g basil leaves
40g raw pine nuts
40g Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese
large pinch sea salt and grind of pepper
100ml olive oil
- Put everything except the oil into a pestle and mortar and grind into a rough paste. Then add half of the oil and grind again until you have a smoothish paste. Add the rest of the oil if you think it needs it and a little more if necessary - you are looking for a soft paste, on the runny side. You can do this in a food processor, but the paste will be much smoother.
- Scrape into a jar, cover the top with more olive oil and keep for up to a week in the fridge (if you can resist it that long)