Wild Garlic Pesto, Soup, Bread etc etc etc

I got caught up in a verdant frenzy of foraging and cooking yesterday and where it came from I don't precisely know. Perhaps it was the passing of Ostara that got me in the mood, finally throwing off the shackles of a long, dreary, grey winter. Awaking an impetus, a burning desire within my soul to take to the surrounding fields and forests and seek new growth, new life, new beginnings. To dance across streams, to climb trees, to run with the stags, to awake the cuckoo, to rip my shirt off and smear badger shit all over my hairy chest and yell at the top of my lungs, "Aslan is back! Aslan is back!"

Or maybe it was because a lot of people were talking about wild garlic on Twitter (well @audreygillan and @everythingbut mostly) and my garden is teeming with the stuff.

Nevertheless, there is definitely something exciting about spring and when the ramson shoots appear around our cherry tree and start to broaden into pungent leaves of green, I do get slightly hysterical, grabbing fistfuls to smell and shovel in my gob. I kid you not. And this is regardless of the fact that our cats often spray their business in that area. Over the seasons though, I have to say that I don't really utilise our crop as much as I should. In the past I've snipped some into salads, scrambled eggs or steamed and wilted very quickly and used as accompaniment for salmon or chicken but more often than not I've given the stuff away to friends. With the intention of using this alturuistic act to bribe them for goods, services, favours etc at a later date. But like I said I got thoroughly stuck in yesterday making wild garlic pesto, soup (with nettles) and bread so as a further act of goodwill I thought I'd post the recipes. Being the kind of guy I am and all.*

Wild Garlic Pesto

A simple recipe and an absolute humdinger, an assault on the senses and quite frankly one that will make your breath stink so make sure your partner also indulges. My son Fin was watching me with eager eyes whilst I was blitzing this up in the food processor, constantly asking "what was are you doing?" and "can I have some?". I warned him that it might be a bit too strong for a little boy to taste but Fin was insistant. Cue minute tip of teaspoon being placed into his mouth followed by much spitting and wailing and running around. Like I said I did warn him. Strangely enough though when heated through with some pasta, the intensity of the pesto did temper somewhat and Fin managed his bowlful with no qualms at all.

1 large bunch of wild garlic, washed

1 small bunch of curly parsley, washed

60gms pine nuts, toasted

60gms parmesan cheese

150mls olive oil (I mixed half extra virgin, half normal)

squeeze of lemon juice

salt and pepper


Place all the ingredients into a food processor apart from the olive oil and blitz for a minute or two then slowly pour in the olive oil until blended. Use for pasta, mash, dipping etc etc

Wild Garlic and Nettle Soup

I got the inspiration for this vivid, fresh tasting, vitamin packed soup from the aforementioned @everythingbut (real name Claire) who also runs Shacklewell Nights supper club and writes Green Onions but changed a couple of ingredients with what I had to hand. Interestingly, did you know that after they've been picked, nettles do actually lose their sting before cooking? It's all to do with the fact that the flow of formic acid comes from the main stem of the plant, pluck the leaf off and the 'sting' dries up. So after washing you can use the leaves raw. Best leave the nettles overnight to test this theory though. In fact, don't hold me to this, I am giving you all this guff because some bloke from Cool Earth once told me I could do it. (And I did, just check my reaction on the video in this link). But I don't want to be held responsible for any incidents or get any phone calls from people saying "Dabby, I'th justh sbent ten hoursth upth the hosthpital coth of you, you bathsted".

2 onions, finely sliced

2 stalks of celery, finely sliced

3 potatoes, small dice

1 bay leaf

1 large carrier bag of wild garlic, washed

1 large carrier bag of young nettles, leaves picked and washed (wearing rubber gloves!)

2 litres water

pinch of nutmeg

a dollop or two of mascarpone

salt and pepper

large knob of butter

In a large stock pot, melt the butter and gently fry the onion and celery until soft, then add the potato and bay leaf and continue to heat and stir for a further 10 minutes or so. Pour in the water and bring to the boil and then add the nettle leaves. Bring back to a gentle simmer for 5 more minutes until the nettles have wilted and then throw in the wild garlic, which will wilt almost immediately. Take off the heat and blitz in a blender. Place back in the pot to reheat, stirring though the nutmeg, mascarpone and season to taste. Claire's suggestion of serving with grated boiled egg worked really well with this soup.

Wild Garlic Bread

Very simple. Just follow Dan Lepard's Easy Loaf recipe and at the stage when you have to pat the dough into an oval shape before rolling, just smear some of the wild garlic pesto over the surface. It helps to make some wild garlic pesto before this stage of course but this bread tastes amazing. No more frozen bagettes to be slammed into the oven 10 minutes before serving up your lasagne from now on. Yes this is slow food but also wild food. Luuurve food in fact......grrrowl.

*Obviously you have to find your own wild garlic though. Unless you can offer me a decent price.


PDH said…
I've got to be honest I really dislike Wild Garlic so I might be with Finn on the Pesto but that bread looks absolutely spanking Danny you are a proper dab hand at the old baking :^D
goodshoeday said…
Not sure my little wild garlic section contains enough for all three recipes but its taking hold nicely. Will try the pesto and maybe the bread. Thanks for sharing (the recipes and the original plant)
Mmmm you've brought back a childhood memory for me I've not thought about for YEARS. My aunt and uncle used to live near some woods with wild garlic and I remember walking amongst it and rubbing the leaves together in my hands to bring out the garlic smell. Look like you've put it all to good use... that's a fabulous green colour and now I'm really really hungry....
Unknown said…
Danny - beautiful post, beautiful food. Hello spring x
Kerri said…
Wild garlic bread is a great idea, it looks amazing.

I bought some wild garlic from Borough Market last year (after re-mortgaging my house, obviously) and it didn't taste like a lot.

I'm going to start looking again and see if I can get some more. Otherwise, I do know where you live :)
Kavey said…
After our foraging in Dorset, where there's more wild garlic along miles and miles and miles of roadside than I've seen anywhere else... we have been enjoying wild garlic all year since, having frozen some.

I must blog it ASAP, actually.

Oh yes.

Thanks for my plants, Pete replanted them outside in the back garden on Sunday!

x x x
Unknown said…
stunning bread... really amazing!... can't wait to get foraging this weekend! woo hoo!
Food Urchin said…
Pavel - Why thank you old bean, I was very pleased with the bread, might try bread shots next.

Goodshoeday - Give it another year or so and your garden will be overrun.

Sarah, Maison Cupcake - ah memories, funny but I haven't seen much WG growing in the neighbouring fields, wonder where mine has come from?

Aud - Thank you and yes, hello Spring, it's about time!

Kerri - you don't have to steal in at the dead of night to pinch some WG, you can have some if you like.

Kavey - you are welcome, shame you didn't come outside to give me a hand in the dark ; )

Dom - cheers, are you on the look out just for WG or are you foraging for anything else?
Helen said…
That bread looks ace. In fact it all does. I must admit the wild garlic plant you gave me has not re-sprouted. At least I don't think it has; my balcony is such a mess it's hard to tell what's going on out there.
Jonathan said…
Impressive stuff. The bread looks particularly awesome. Missing the wild garlic season over here in Scandiland.
wow! We are going to try the bread and pesto! Thanks for sharing such great recipes!

Claire & Mel
Honestly Its easy
gastrogeek said…
What lovely stuff! Some pedants get a bit funny about toasting the pine nuts in pesto, but it definitely makes a positive difference. Bread looks super tasty too.Must get down to your supper club and soon!
Nick Baines said…
I love wild garlic and love to bake bread. I am so definitely going to make that bread. I'm off for a walk along the coast tomorrow to a little place i know for wild garlic. Thanks mate, great post
How salivatingly delicious! (Don't think the former is a word, but what the heck!) This looks gorgeous.
WoW, it looks like spring-time on a plate! Wonderful!! xxxxxxxx
I am very pleased to tell you that your wild garlic is still alive in my flat. I'm hoping to keep it a wee sustainable WG patch of my own and pay it forward a teeny tiny harvest at a time!

Ed said…
Not quite sure how I've only just seen this post - I think I missed it in the excitement of reading about your mammoth Scotch egg. But I'm glad I scrolled down - that bread looks fantastic. Super lucky to have a crop of wild garlic at the bottom of your garden. Even if it is covered in cat piss.

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