Foraging 101: wild garlic pesto

Author:

Even the most novice of foragers can safely identify wild garlic thanks to its distinctive, heady scent. Make the most of your daily outing to gather some of these glorious green leaves and rustle up our Head Chef’s pesto

The season for wild garlic leaves starts in late February, running until June. Although the season is relatively short, they are one of the most abundant wild foods and the ideal starting point for a novice forager. Likely to be found in any wooded glade where the ground is moist, the broad green leaves give off a lovely garlicky aroma.

Part of the onion family, wild garlic is intense and fiery when raw. Although not as harsh as bulb garlic, they come into their own when cooked: wilt like you would spinach, allowing the leaves to take a little colour, and you have a fantastic green that works with just about anything.

This pesto is fantastic to have in the fridge: use it as a backup sauce for grilled meats and fish, or with some fresh pasta. Liven up a potato salad, try it with eggs, as a garnish, or in a tart.

Wild garlic pesto
  • 100g wild garlic leaves
  • 40g pine nuts – toasted
  • 200ml olive oil
  • Half a lemon – zest only
  • 50g Parmesan – grated
  • Salt and pepper

Pick and wash the wild garlic leaves. Wilt half in a splash of olive oil and place on a plate to cool. Roughly chop the cooked leaves and then place in a blender with the remaining garlic leaves, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon zest and grated Parmesan. Blend to a nice smooth paste and season to taste with salt and pepper.

What to drink: Go for fresh, vibrant and delicately fruited whites to cut through the full flavours here. Albariño would be perfect, as would the fresh whites of Northern Italy – like this one.