Foraging seems to have come into the culinary mainstream these days, but living in Central London I have had little scope to engage in one of the few positive developments of the recession zeitgeist. Wild garlic is the one exception to this, due to it being more or less a weed that tends to take over quite a lot of ground, and also being pretty easy to identify, given the strong garlic smell. I found a huge patch in Highgate over the weekend, after an unsuccessful trek over Hampstead Heath, and picked a large bag to bring home, making me possibly the weirdest smelling and least popular person on the 43 bus.
For this recipe, credit goes 100% to my Dad, who invented this in an a fairly successful attempt at recreating the garlic dip that Cooke’s Café used to sell in Dublin when I was a child. It does not contain parmesan so is not technically pesto but its pretty much the same thing. It is pungent, but pleasantly rather than overwhelmingly so (I am someone who usually finds a little garlic goes a long way). It is also not too expensive to make in large quantities given that the main ingredient is free, making it a great alternative to traditional herb pestos. I like it on toasted bread with goats cheese, but it would be great stirred into pasta or risotto. It is best to leave it in the fridge overnight to let the flavours mix before eating, it gets rid of the slightly chlorophylly taste of raw wild garlic. My dad’s recipe calls for apple balsamic and tomato. I skipped the tomato and used regular balsamic mixed with a small bit of wine vinegar. This should make a jam jar sized amount.
- Two large handfuls of wild garlic leaves, washed and chopped (these should make up about 60% of the overall mass).
- One small shallot, chopped
- One tablespoon of pine nuts, toasted
- 200 Mls of Olive oil / Sunflower oil Mixed
- 30 mls Balsamic vinegar/white wine vinegar mixed.
- One teaspoon of fennel seeds
- One half teaspoon of Curry Powder
- One half teaspoon of mild chilli Flakes
- One tomato chopped (optional)
- Mix it all together in a blender until it forms a liquid consistency.
- Season to taste.
- Store in a jar in the fridge for up to several weeks
- Make sure to keep it covered with olive oil or it will go mouldy, and remove any crusty bits above the olive oil line.