wild garlic pistachio pesto

Easter was early this year, and so was the wild garlic. Thick-leaved clumps of it have sprouted up and all the parks have their secret patches. I haven’t gone out picking it this year because Danny’s garden is nothing but wild garlic, and he is keen to find homes for this stinking, tasty weed.

We meet in a pub in Farringdon. He with a reeking carrier bag of wild garlic. Me with a jar of preserved bergamot and a freezer bag full of choc chip cookies. It seemed like a fair swap.

It was only on the train home (and God, was I ever unpopular on that train. It’s not often you can guarantee a set of four seats to yourself on a train in London, but that night I had space aplenty) that I realised I had no idea what I was going to do with all this wild garlic. I’d done what I always do: got excited, said: “Yes, me! I would like vast amounts of wild garlic!” and then made no plans for it. So, I decided I’d best do what I always do, and make pesto.

I’ve made wild garlic and almond pesto before (look how sunny it was that year). This year I’ve gone for a green theme and used pistachios. I’ve also made a modest amount and opted for a thick, chunky texture that you can thin out with water from the pasta pan if you’re eating it with pasta. If you’re not – I ate it with steak and a fistful of watercress – then the thicker texture works nicely as a chunky sauce.

Wild Garlic & Pistachio Pesto
Serves 2

25g shelled pistachios
1 garlic clove
15g Parmesan
30g wild garlic
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Tip the pistachios into a dry frying pan. Toast for a few mins till browned, then tip onto a board. Leave to cool, then roughly chop and scoop into a pestle and mortar. Roughly grind them.

Peel and crush the garlic. Add to the pistachios. Finely grate in the Parmesan. Finely chop the wild garlic and add that, too. Crush together till you have a chunky paste. I like my pesto fairly rough and ready, but you can carry on grinding till you get the texture you want.

Stir in the olive oil and lemon juice. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir and taste. Add a little more lemon juice, oil, salt or pepper if you think it needs it.

The pesto will keep in the fridge for a few days, or you can freeze it for a couple of months. Toss with pasta (thin with water from the pasta pan if you want to), serve on the side of grilled meats, spoon over fried eggs, spread on pizza, however you like really.


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