better than fairies at the bottom of the garden: wild garlic pesto

wild leek pesto
While some people delight at the fairies at the bottom of the garden, I am entranced by the swathes of what has turned out to be "three-cornered leeks" or allium triquetrum, (which is also a form of wild garlic). This invader from the south western Mediterranean has acclimatised over the past hundred years or so, often found on verges in southern England. It is very pretty, very like a white bluebell. Unfortunately, when it gets out of hand it does have a slight tendency to overwhelm anything around it, although it does die back by late spring, so it isn't necessarily competing with native fauna. Fortunately the bottom of my garden is a wild area (fairies not withstanding) and I am enthralled by a free supply of wild garlic flavoured leaves. 

I had intended to make a pesto based on the basil pesto recipe that I had posted last year. But the wild garlic leaves are denser than basil and required a little more olive oil.

How would you eat the pesto? Well with pasta of course, but it is delicious as a topping for most fish as well as grilled chicken or lamb and makes a great topping for bruschetta too. Since I am now awash with the stuff, I have got into the habit of stirring a little in to stews for added flavour and use the wild garlic flowers to dress salads.

Skill level: Easy

1 x large bunch of wild garlic leaves (about 50g), roughly chopped. (You can use the flower stems, but I just gather them up and put them in a jam jar - they are so pretty!)
200ml olive oil
1 x garlic clove, roughly chopped
30g pine nuts, lightly toasted
4 tbsp Pecorino cheese, freshly grated (or Parmesan)
a pinch of sugar
a pinch of rock salt

  1. Pour the olive oil in to a suitable bowl or the beaker of a blender and add the chopped wild garlic leaves and blend roughly. I used a hand-held blender and I noticed that the leaves took a little longer to blend than basil would.
  2. When the leaves are roughly blended, add the garlic, pine nuts, sugar and salt and continue to blend at a high speed, until the sauce is evenly blended.
  3. Add the cheese at a lower speed or in pulses.

  • When the pasta has cooked and been drained, reserve 4 tablespoons of the cooking water and add this to the pesto before dressing. (This helps the pesto sauce to better cling to the pasta).
  • This will freeze well, but leave out the cheese before freezing.


lettersfromlaunna said...

This sounds yummy, I will have to try this for sure... it may taste good on some new baby potatoes:)

o cozinheiro este algarve said...

I am intrigued.Does the pesto have a very strong taste or is it quite mild?

Kavey said...

Our wild garlic has come up well this year... we were given some roots by the lovely FoodUrchin, from his own garden patch. :-)

Fiona Maclean said...

oooh is that what it looks like...never realised it was wild garlic (no I don't have any on my roof terrace, yes I have seen it though!) Hopefully one day we will have some normal weather fit for fine weather foraging!

Andrew Davies said...

Wonderfully simple yet delicious I bet, I love wild Garlic

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

LfL - Just had a thought - some nice new potatoes with a wild garlicky mayonnaise. Lovely!

Algarve - fairly mild I would say, although I may be desensitised to garlic as I eat quite a lot of it!

Kavey - I am always open to anyone's seedlings, cuttings or spare bulbs!

Fiona - When I firsdt saw it I just thought they were white bluebells, but then got a whiff!

Andrew - this is the year I am going to do some serious foraging!

Abimbola Akanwo said...

Thanks for the useful recipe and the uses for the pesto.

I think your pesto will also boast vegetables stir fry. I can also see it working with sauté potatoes...