Monday, 9 April 2012


Foraged food...
It's raining heavily this morning, so I am very glad I went out yesterday to collect wild garlic leaves to make pesto.  I have always wanted to try this and found a good recipe online on the River Cottage forum that involved said leaves, walnuts, olive oil, hard cheese and a bit of seasoning.  Whizzed up and put into a sterilised jar it should keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks if it's lucky :-)

There is something quite magical about foraging for food - I haven't done much of it apart from the odd occasion when I have picked "wild" food such as blackberries but I'd like to learn more about it.  It feels basic and natural to go out there and finding something to eat.  The lives most of us lead here in Western Europe are much removed from the original sources of food but when you do go and collect something edible, it seems to resonate with something deep inside.  Since I am no expert, I would definitely not recommend just picking anything that looks tasty - that would be a recipe for disaster - but with the right knowledge, it must be very rewarding indeed.

Wild Garlic Pesto

  • 100g freshly picked wild garlic leaves
  • 50g shallot, spring onions or leeks
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 200 ml olive oil, sunflower oil or rapeseed oil
  • 50-60g mature hard cheese (Quick’s goats cheese , Parmesan or similar hard, mature cheese), finely grated
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
Also needed: sterilised jars - you can sterilise jars & lids by washing them in hot water and leaving them to dry in an oven that has been heated to 100 degrees celsius OR run through the dishwasher

Start by picking the leaves over and discarding any coarse stalks, damaged leaves or any stray pieces of grass (you don’t need to wash unless you’ve picked from road side verges). Place in food processor along with walnuts, shallot and 150 ml oil. Blitz for about a minute until the everything is finely chopped up. Fold in the grated cheese, salt and sugar Fill into clean sterilised jars to within 5-7 cm of the top of jar. Make sure you press down firmly with the back of a spoon to remove any pockets of air (trapped air can cause contamination) allowing sufficient room to swirl the remaining oil over the top of the pesto to seal the surface. When you come to use the pesto, stir it well before spooning out. Make sure the surface of any pesto remaining in the jar is completely covered with oil before you return to the fridge. (this is very important if it is to keep well). 

(source: River Cottage website)

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