Sometimes, I wish Mother Nature would do labels.
A little sign, saying “makes great pesto” and pointing towards that untended clump of leaves at the bottom of the garden would have been really helpful. Instead, for years, I had supposed that this plant’s only part of edible interest was the flowers. Oops.
Thanks to a little research, I now know better.
The narrow leaves of the plant in question – Allium triquetrum, one of a number of plants referred to as wild garlic – do indeed make the most fabulous pesto. More than that, it is a pesto that is made for use with potatoes. I would quite happily eat gobs of this with roast spuds, oven baked chips or fried potato cakes, mix it with mashed potato, stir it through a plate of gnocchi, swirl it into a bowl of potato soup, dollop it onto a baked spud, or serve alongside some steamed new potatoes.
And new potatoes is what I hope to have, oh, sometime next month, if my bagged up potato seedlings continue to make steady progress. I just hope I have some wild garlic left by then – I’d love for them to meet.
Wild Garlic Pesto (for spuds and other things)
I made this pesto with narrow-leafed wild garlic or Allium triquetrum (also known as three cornered leek or three cornered garlic). You can, however, also use the wider leaves of that other wild garlic found here, Allium ursinum (also known as ramsons) or in North America, try Allium tricoccum (aka ramps).
Personally, I don’t care for pesto that’s too oily, so I’ve only added a small amount here, though you can add more if that’s to your taste. Like any pesto, this is best freshly made, though you can keep it in the fridge covered with a film of olive oil or freeze the freshly made pesto in small containers. If you do want to freeze the pesto, I see that Darina Allen, in Forgotten Skills of Cooking, suggests that it is best to freeze it minus the parmesan, which can be added later, when the pesto has been defrosted.
- 40g pine nuts
- 75g wild garlic leaves
- 3-4 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
- 50g parmesan, finely grated
- salt to taste
You’ll also need:
- A food processor or mortar and pestle.
- Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan over a medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are browned but not burned, about 4-5 minutes.
- Using a food processor, blend together the pine nuts, wild garlic leaves and olive oil. If you don’t have a food processor, chop the pine nuts and garlic leaves first, then mash together using a mortar and pestle.
- Stir in the grated parmesan. Taste for salt and add some if it needs it (which it may not, depending on the saltiness of the cheese).
- Enjoy with any number of potato dishes or, yes, even with pasta.
- You can bump up the garlic flavour by adding a clove of garlic to the blend or make any number of other pesto sauces by using different greens. Basil leaves are, of course, the classic, but rocket also makes for an excellent pesto.
- Around 200g of pesto, of which I will easily eat half in a single sitting.