Far be it from me to begin getting political with my pesto .. but I love a recipe with a story! My neighbour Sarah and I have been making a valiant attempt through lockdown to make sure we do a 5km hike each day. The loop takes us up a big hill, down along the canal, through Bugsworth Basin and back home. Head honcho of the Basin, Pablo, is a canal dwelling Spaniard who looks after the boats. He makes sure everyone's behaving themselves on the Derbyshire waterways!
Yesterday, on our usual walk past the pretty canal boats, we stopped to talk to Pabs, who happened to have a large bucket of wild garlic under his arm. I've been desperate to find a local foraging spot for wild garlic ever since I was reminded it's wild garlic season this Spring. It likes to grow in damp, marshy areas. Usually beside water and often close to where bluebells pop up. Keen to know the source of this elusive haul, I asked Pabs where he'd found it .. "Edwina Currie gave it me" he replied in his lilting Spanish accent, as if it was the most normal thing in the world!!
In case you're unaware of Edwina's fame, she's the Conservative MP, possibly best known for her affair with John Major, and stint on I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here in 2014!! And .. it seems .. keen wild garlic cultivator!
With a promise to bring Pablo a little jar of pesto by return, he handed across a clump of wild garlic, which is now proudly planted in the corner of my allotment. And that is the story of how my wild garlic pesto recipe came about.
Very large bunch of wild garlic leaves (approx 75g)
Large handful of fresh basil leaves
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic (if you'd like extra garlicy-ness)
Juice of half a lemon
75g pine nuts (these are so expensive at the moment, so almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, macadamias, hazelnuts or hemps seeds could work too)
100ml extra virgin olive oil
Good pinch or two of salt
Always try to pick wild garlic from secluded areas away from the potential of chemicals or dogs! Nevertheless, rinse and clean the wild garlic leaves extremely well. Dry them in a salad spinner if you have one, or leave them out to air-dry
Add everything except the oil to a food processor and begin blitzing, carefully pouring in the oil as you do so. You might need to scrape down the sides and combine everything again from time to time. Add a little water for a smoother consistency and season with extra lemon and salt as you go if needed to get the flavour just right
Spoon into a sterile jar and store in the fridge. Keeps for 1-2 weeks