Updated: May 11, 2020
It's the first day of May and I can’t believe over a month has passed by since I was last working in the cafe. We have been so lucky to at least have had a month of fantastic weather. Spring has definitely sprung. The birds are busy; starlings have nested and are already taking food into their young, cuckoos are calling and the swallows have started to arrive. Nature is definitely well and truly alive. While on my daily walk through the woods over the last week I have watched a red squirrel bounding through the trees, spotted a buzzard sitting at the top of a tree and watched numerous young dear skilfully bouncing through the woods. The evenings are also stretching out and I have been occasionally sitting out and checking out the night skies. I had a wonderful experience one night last week. I was lying out on a bench looking up at the stars when a barn owl flew only a few feet above my head swooping around and over the trees on a night time search for some food. I wasn't quite so lucky in spotting the shooting stars that I was looking for but that didn’t matter that night.
The wild plants are also coming to life in the woods, many of them edible. Last week I spoke about nettles and posted a recipe for nettle soup that I hope some of you enjoyed. This week I am going to try and entice you to enjoy the distinctive taste of ransoms, otherwise known as wild garlic. I came across the most beautiful and extensive patch next to a small river in the woods last week. They are in a place where not many people would pass through so uncontaminated and perfect for eating. The young leaves are when they are at their best to eat. Once they have flowered the leaves can become a little bitter. However, if you find a good patch that doesn't all flower at once, they can be harvested over a month or so. The flowers can also be eaten and add a nice touch to a salad. When harvesting the leaves it's easiest to cut them at the base of the stalk with a pair of scissors. You will smell the strong smell of garlic which is an obvious way to tell that you have the right plant. Of course, do not eat anything from the wild if you are not absolutely sure of what it is.
We have been using quite a bit of wild garlic at home over the last few weeks. Wild garlic parcels stuffed with rice, vegetables, herbs and cheese have gone down well. The recipe that I'm going to post for this week though is for wild garlic pesto. It is very simple and you can substitute seeds for nuts and try different cheeses or no cheese at all if you prefer. Pesto also freezes well. I put it into large ice cube trays and the into bags once it has frozen. Wild garlic pesto is so full of flavour, much more so than its counterpart made from basil. Try it stirred into cooked pasta and served simply with a few slices of cooked beetroot on the side. Delicious!
Wild Garlic Pesto
50g Wild Garlic leaves, washed 30g Parmesan cheese
15g Sunflower seeds 80ml Olive Oil
15g Pumpkin seeds Sea salt and black pepper
If you have a food processor, blitz all of the ingredients together except for the olive oil for a few seconds, then continue to whiz while slowly adding the olive oil. You can also use a pestle and mortar for a rougher texture. Chop up the wild garlic leaves and grind them with the seeds, parmesan and seasoning in a large pestle and mortar. Add the olive oil towards the end. Use, freeze or put into a clean jar. If you are storing it in a jar, pour sufficient olive oil on top to keep the pesto covered. This will keep for several weeks in the fridge. Enjoy.