Over the Easter weekend, my friend, Ellie, sent me a couple of photographs of wild garlic. She had been foraging and urged me to do the same. She also gave me her recipe for pesto. The next day, I did just that; with the Food Husband and Baby in tow, we set off to forage in some woodland just a few miles from our home.
When foraging for wild garlic ensure you always leave a good amount still growing, and you do not need to pull it up from the bulb. Simply pick the leaves and flowers. The flowers can add a punchy garlic hit to salads, but Ellie also uses them in her pesto. The more garlicky the merrier, right? Aim to pick away from the edges of paths (we all know what dogs do when they are out for walks) and always wash your foraged treasure thoroughly before eating. If you are not using the wild garlic the same day, then storing it with the stems in a glass of water in the fridge will keep them fresh for a couple of days.
I made all of my green treasure into pesto as soon as we got home, making a jar for the fridge to eat over the next few weeks and the rest frozen in small pots in the freezer. I topped each with a layer of rapeseed oil, which when in the fridge will help preserve the pesto (just keep it topped up after each use to ensure the surface has a thin covering of oil).
Now, in a quest to find out if diet can help the symptoms of a chronic illness, the Food Husband is eliminating various things from his diet. Having cut out gluten for a couple of months, he’s now moved on to dairy. This has led me to adapt Ellie’s pesto recipe to one that is dairy free, and at the same time vegan and gluten-free. I made two versions which I will share with you, along with Ellie’s suggestion with the addition of dairy too.
Whichever recipe you choose, just ensure you taste it and adjust as necessary. You are then free to use it as you wish; stirred through pasta, as a dressing on new potatoes, slathered on chicken or fish (pre or post cooking as you wish), or as a topping to crostinis (perhaps with a little goats cheese). Enjoy!
- Wild garlic (thoroughly washed)
- Lemon juice
- Cold pressed rapeseed oil
- Salt and pepper
- Pine nuts (optional)
- Hard cheese (optional)
There are no hard and fast rules for quantities here; you are doing it to taste. As a guide I found that three or four handfuls of wild garlic leaves (and flowers) was enough for the juice of half a lemon, a large pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper. To this I added four or five glugs of oil and blended. The result will be a vegan pesto, utterly delicious, lower in calories as it does not include any pine nuts or cheese (although still calorific from the oil, don’t forget!).
I also made a batch which moved closer to a regular pesto with addition of pine nuts. I added about 40-50g to the above suggested quantities. This obviously gave the resulting pesto a nuttier taste, but still remains dairy-free and vegan.
Ellie’s recipe doesn’t contain any pine nuts but does include the addition of cheese. You will want to use a hard cheese, traditionally Parmesan, but Ellie recommends using an extra-mature cheddar for preference; I would say 50g should be about right.
Remember to store in the fridge or freezer. When in the fridge, cover the top with a little extra oil, to help it keep for a few weeks.