Wild garlic (Allium ursinum), also be known as ramsons, buckrams, wild garlic, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, bear leek or bear's garlic, prefers to grow in slightly acidic moist soil so can often be found beside river banks. It has many easily identifiable properties such as a lighter colour on the underside of the pointed leaves, the flowers (seen in the photo) but the biggest tell is the smell. As it often grows in large patches, it is common to smell it before you see it. If you're unsure, crush a bit up and you should smell the garlic. When picking it yourself from the wild, be very sure as it can be mistaken for inedible plants such as lily-of-the-valley.Though all of the wild garlic plant is edible, we're interested in the leaves so when picking check for insect damage and break your chosen plants off, leaving the bulb in tact so it will grow back for next year! I took 3 plants for this recipe. The flowers are also edible and make a nice decoration for your finished dish!
I hate when recipes assume I have all this stuff that I just don't! So this can be made very quickly by just shoving everything in a blender/food processor but I wanted to prove that this delicious pesto can be made with only:
- Sharp knife
- Chopping board
- Rolling pin
Time: 10 minutes or less
Basic Ingredients for ~100ml pesto:
- 3 wild garlic plants (leaves)
- Basil leaves (roughly equal proportion to wild garlic leaves)
- ~25g Nuts/seeds
- 2 crushed garlic cloves (1 tsp garlic paste)
- 4 tsp olive oil
- Add 2 tsp parmesan for a more traditional pesto (or parmesan style cheese for vegetarians)
- Try adding an infused oil like chilli oil to kick it up a notch
- Add tomato puree if red pesto is more your thing
Step 1: Step 1: Wash the Wild Garlic
Picking your own isn't the same as buying from a shop. Make sure you wash the plants thoroughly to get off any creepy-crawlies/unwanted matter. I did this in a big jug, first with warm water then with cold before patting dry with kitchen roll
Step 2: Step 2: Chop Leafy Ingredients
Break off leaves of both wild garlic and basil in roughly equal proportions. Give them a chop, as much or little as you like. This will act as a starting point as it will be crushed up but the smaller you cut the pieces the less chunky the pesto will be.
Step 3: Step 3:
Grab rolling pin or other such item and smush your mix together - pestle and mortar style. I did this on my chopping board, though in hindsight it may have been better in a bowl. It still worked pretty well though and at this point, started to smell amazing!
Step 4: Step 4: Adding Your Other Ingredients
Buy some seeds/nuts. Pesto is traditionally done with pine nuts but these cheaper mixed seeds from Aldi did the trick. Pour out some of your seeds/nuts (this was ~25g). Add a teaspoon of crushed garlic/garlic paste. Smush some more! Keep going till you reach your desired consistency. I crushed the seeds to one side before mixing it all in together which worked best.
If you're going for tomato puree, parmesan or veggie parmesan-like cheese, add this now. I didn't feel the need to add any salt or pepper but flavour to your personal tastes!
Step 5: Step 5: Finishing the Pesto
Spoon into a jar (this one is ~100ml in size and part of a 3 pack from poundland) and add olive oil a teaspoon at a time, mixing in between, till you're happy with the texture.
Here you could replace olive oil with infused olive oil for extra flavours.
Step 6: Step 6: Enjoying the Pesto!
This can really be enjoyed in so many ways, I had some with some pasta, some on toast, some as a veggie pesto pita pizza and, I'm not afraid to admit it, I just had a spoonful out the jar because it was so bloody yummy! In jars like this it makes a lovely (and really cheap!) gift for someone if you can bear to give some away.
You're only limited by your imagination, so go wild! (if you'll pardon the pun)