This was definitely in the top ten most fun experiences I have had in in the woods. I felt just like a dryad (that's a tree nymph for the uninitiated) as we wandered through the mucky mud in search of the leaves of wild garlic. Ebrill said they grow close to bluebells which were just in the green stage and not the flowering blue bit yet. You have to be careful as bluebell leaves are poisonous, so you don't want to accidentally pick some. But luckily bluebells and wild garlic look nothing alike.
We found banks and banks of the stuff and strayed slightly off the path to gather our leaves (avoiding any too close to the pathway.) It was so exciting to fill a bag with different sized wild garlic leaves--the smaller the leaf the more intense the garlic taste. Ebrill taught me to leave the bulb so the garlic leaves could grow back. I came home with about 6 cups of leaves.
Ebrill suggested making pesto and the whole rest of the way through the woods pesto was all I could think about. Seriously, I could not wait to get making. I know pesto is traditionally made with basil leaves and (expensive) pine nuts, but really any dark leafy green and any nut will do. I chose walnut as I had some on hand.
Now, I realise that you may not have a knowledgeable friend to take you on an exciting foraging adventure. Like me, you might not have ever seen wild garlic in person. The only knowledge i had of wild garlic was reading Tess of the d'Urbervilles where they can tell a cow had eaten wild garlic because the milk had a funny tang and they all scour the field on their hands and knees looking for it so they can dig it up.
If you don't have any wild garlic near you then you can use something leafy green like spinach and just chuck in some garlic. But if you can go out in the woods and collect some wild garlic then I urge you to do so. It's exhilarating.
I should also like to say that traditionally pesto is swimming in oil. I only used a little bit of oil and blended mine a bit chunky and it was still bloody gorgeous. I collected about 6 cups of leaves which made about 2 cups of pesto. I froze one jar and put the other in the fridge for pizza and hummus. I will be reporting on the pizza next week on the blog, so watch this space.
Wild Garlic and Walnut Pesto
3 cups leafy greens, well washed (wild garlic or spinach)
3-4 cloves garlic if you are using spinach (you don't need this if you are using wild garlic obviously)
1/4 to 1/2 cup walnuts
1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1-2 TB lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
2 TB olive oil
In a food processor put all your ingredients except oil and blend. Stop and scrape down the sides. Blend again streaming in the oil until a thick, chunky paste forms. Store in a clean jar.
I read online that if you were keeping it in the fridge for a while then to pour a layer of oil over the top to prevent oxidation which would discolour your bright green. We ate one jar the very next on the pizza and the rest mixed into hummus, so i can't say for sure.
Also as long as you got your food processor out, you might as well do a double batch and freeze one. then defrost overnight in your fridge. It might need a bit of a stir and an drizzle of oil or water if it seems a bit dry.
If I had known how easy and delicious homemade pesto was i would definitely have been making it all this time. Especially since you can freeze it...why not make several batches and store them away for future meals. I am picturing pesto pasta with roasted tomatoes somewhere in our near future.