Friday, 23 April 2010

Wild Garlic and Walnut Pesto

wild garlic pesto 4
I love living in London with a passion. Have I mentioned that lately?! Whilst having dinner with some friends the other night, we got to discussing how overwhelming some people find life in London and how, in towns outside the capital, you'll frequently meet people who just can't imagine dealing with the constant hustle and bustle, frankly terrifying crime rate and above all, the expense of the big city. And of course I can identify with that sentiment! Finding a quiet space is nigh on impossible and having any space to yourself is normally incredibly expensive (although by the sounds of things, nothing on the cost of New York appartments). As soon as you open your front door, you're never alone and yet lonliness is rife.

So what exactly is the appeal of the city? For me, predictably, this revolves primarily around food. You could eat out at a different restaurant every night and never eat at the same place twice. Of course, some nights might be a whole lot worse than others, and I definitely don't earn enough to test this theory! Within this huge swathe of eateries throughout the city, there are so many marvelous hidden gems. From the stunning sandwiches and cakes in cafes tucked away down alleys to organic pizzas with toppings that make grown men weep. The italian deli in the most unpreposessing of locations with heavenly antipasti, the tiny grocers stocking perfection in chocolate form, sourced from arguably one of Brussels' finest chocolatiers (and they know a thing or two about chocolate) and the late night falafel bar for soaking up the alcohol after a night in the West End. To name but a few. And today, my head is aching thanks to the discovery of some of the finest cocktails I've ever tried, in a bar so hidden it doesn't even have a name.

All of these places and more - oh so many more! On reflection, I've visited each of these places only a handful of times, if only because of the ever growing list of new places on my list to try (a consequence of equally food obsessed friends). On of my favorite and most frequently used discovery to date? Awesome food I don't even have to leave the flat for - sign me up! Especially when my head is quite so painful... And this is how I came to sample the stunning and so underused ingredient that is wild garlic. If we lived in the country, I would dedicate a morning to learning to forage for the stuff, but in the mean time, we shall have to make do with someone else doing the foraging for us (I'm not sure whether Hampstead Heath is a hot spot for foraging. Rumour has it, wandering off the beaten track is left to those with a taste for rather different earthly delights...).
wild garlic pesto 2
Having never tried this leaf before (salad? vegetable? herb? Not sure of the precise definition) I decided to keep it simple. Nothing showcases garlic's pungency quite like pesto. But the charming thing about this particular pesto is its gentler flavour and so much more sociable nature. If you happen to spot wild garlic (whilst foraging or otherwise) I urge you to give it a go. It has been added to our order again this weekend so I shall keep you posted on other uses! Thinking wild garlic mayo...

Rosy xx

Wild Garlic and Walnut Pesto
adapted from Wild Garlic, Gooseberries and Me

100g wild garlic leaves
50g shelled walnuts
200ml olive oil
40g parmesan (or other similar hard cheese)
salt and pepper
lemon juice, parsley

Toast the walunts in a hot over for about 5 minutes - keep a close eye on them as you don't want them to burn but a good amount of colour really brings out the flavour. Allow to cool slightly.

Blend the wild garlic and walnuts in a food processor to for a course puree. Pour in the oil and blend. Add the cheese and pulse a few more times. Taste and season - I added a spritz of lemon juice and a tablespoon of parsley to brighten it up slightly but these aren't in the original recipe and could easily be ommited if you don't have any to hand.

Store in jars of tupperware with a layer of olive oil on top to keep the air from spoiling the pesto. Keeps in the fridge for about a week. Use as you would any other pesto but a little more liberally due to the more delicate flavour. I scaled the recipe for 80g wild garlic and it made 2 small jars of pesto.
wild garlic pesto 1


  1. Oooh, that looks so tasty, and so cute in the jars!

    I know what you mean about London, there is so much good stuff here. But I'm afraid even the gorgeousness of Ottolenghi cakes a mere walk away (and you need the walk after those delights) can't keep me here long term. Countryside it is please.

    p.s. but only on the condition that my wonderful friends will still let me visit and humour us country loving girls with tea and cake dates...

  2. I can't wait to try this! We have garlic growing outside!!