Wild Garlic Leaves

I was in Victoria Park village the other week, on the hunt for some polenta for supper.  My travels took me to the delightful Deli Downstairs, which sells a wide range of delectable and interesting produce, not to mention those store cupboard essentials your local supermarket doesn’t stock, but really should (polenta).

Case in point- wild garlic, which can be hard to track down even now that it is in season.  This wonderful herb is actually called Ramsons and isn’t a type of garlic at all, but rather a member of the chive family.  The flavour packs even more of a punch, however, leaning towards an oniony kind of sweetness-  hence, I imagine, its moniker. 

I had a bit of a crisis of confidence when I got home with the stuff.  I put the fragrant leaves in a glass, covered with a sandwich bag and sealed with a rubber band (to keep fresh for longer in the fridge).  Every time I opened the fridge door, those bright green leaves greeted me and asked ‘what are you going to do with me?’  I had no idea.  I scoured the internet and restaurant menus, found all sorts of interesting salads I could toss together or use it to liven up lamb or add it to sautéed mushrooms (on toasted sourdough with a poached egg or some goats cheese) or even stir it, chopped finely, through some of that polenta.

But I didn’t want to do any of those things.  I wanted to give it a starring role.  And so, I resorted to the simplest solution: use it as a basil substitute in pesto.  The resulting jar is now almost finished, having made many a quick-fix lunch.  

Wild Garlic Pesto
(makes one jar)

You will need:
30g wild garlic leaves, stems removed
15g spring onions (I used only the green parts, for a milder flavour)
20g walnuts or pine nuts
75 g olive oil (not extra virgin- too strong), plus a tbsp or two extra
20 g Parmesan, grated
pinch of salt and pepper

Method:

1.  First of all, once you’ve got your wild garlic home, give it a good look over and toss out any crushed, pulpy leaves.  Then give the rest a quick rinse under the tap and leave to dry.  I say this because I didn’t follow this tip and then found a slug amongst the foliage, which had been quite happily munching its way through a few leaves.

2.  Get out your food processor and blitz the leaves with the spring onions, nuts and olive oil until smooth.

3.  Add the sugar, pepper and cheese and blitz again to incorporate all the ingredients.

4.  Pour the pesto into a sterilised jar.  Add a couple of tablespoons of oil to the top before sealing.

5.  Serve with pasta or even meats such as lamb, chicken, etc.

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