Bit of a different type of post today but I just wanted to share something I did over the weekend.
‘Foraging’ has become pretty trendy of late. While I love the idea of picking edible bits and bobs, the word foraging, with its hipster connotations, makes me wince a bit. However, on Saturday I decided to get over this ridiculous nonsense and go and pick some wild garlic. I did this once this about six years ago and although it was great, I’ve not done it since.
It was on a recent night time tour of Arnos Vale Cemetery (highly recommended by the way) that I remembered my wild garlic picking experience of the past. As we walked through the woods, the air was suddenly filled with the delicious aroma it. If you’ve not smelled it before, you’d definitely be able to sniff it out. It basically just smells like garlic but much more mellow.
I returned on Saturday, armed with a cloth bag to fill and a picking companion. Arnos Vale is a hidden gem. It’s right on the busy main road but after a few minutes of wandering up into the woods, you feel like you’re in the depths of the country side. Bird’s song fills the air and the ash trees envelop you.
The garlic is everywhere at the moment so it wasn’t long before we had filled the bag. The recipe I’d looked at called for 100g of leaves (you don’t use the bulb) but unfortunately it turns out I have absolutely no idea what 100g feels like. We were having a lovely time so we just kept picking. There’s a LOT of the stuff at Arnos Vale so at no point did we feel like we were doing something damaging. And I’m pretty sure I’ve been told it’s fine to pick there…
When we got home I weighed it and discovered we had eight times too much. Whoops. Oh well. We decided to use some to make pesto and the rest for soup. I’ve not made the soup yet so will let you know how that goes at a later date. I can tell you that the pesto was a success – hurrah! I sort of followed the recipe below from Riverford but played around with the quantities a bit. Also I used walnuts instead of hazelnuts because that’s what I had in the cupboard.
We’ve had the pesto with pasta (classic) and tomorrow we’re going to try it with gnocchi. It’s got a sharpness and a kick to it which I really like. I must confess that I find regular pesto a bit ‘meh’ and am always slightly underwhelmed by it. This stuff has a real zing to it and a bit more personality if that makes any sense!
My final comment/confession is that I did use parmesan. Neither vegan, nor zero waste. I’m sure there is an alternative and I’m going to find it. I felt disappointed in myself that I’d not managed to make this ‘perfectly’ and stick to my morals. I wasn’t going to post about it because I felt like I was being hypocritical. But I want to be honest. It’s hard to be perfect.
I’d love you to go and pick some wild garlic and let us know what you get up to with it – vegan, vegetarian, zero waste or not! It’s really sustainable and delicious and is in season between March and June. The leaves are best when they’re dark green and before the flowers have bloomed. Enjoy!
- 100g wild garlic
- 50g Parmesan grated
- 50g hazelnuts, skinned & toasted
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice, to taste
- Salt & pepper
- Thoroughly wash your wild garlic and place in a food processor, blitz until fairly well broken up.
- Next add your Parmesan and process further, this will help to break down the garlic leaves.
- Finally add your hazelnuts. When the nuts are added you will want to have your olive oil to hand; turn the machine back on, and add olive oil to your desired consistency.
- Add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.
- You can always make this more traditionally and slowly in a pestle and mortar too.