Did you know that Pesto - the green, delicious sauce from Italy that can be drizzled over, mixed with, lavishly spread on and used to liven up anything from pasta, salads, meat, fish, bread, vegetables, eggs and more - can be made from a variety of ingredients that can be found in gardens, fields, verges and woodland? This versatile sauce is simple, cheap and delicious made fresh and doesn't have to rely on its standard ingredient, basil.
We've used Garlic Mustard in our recipe, an invasive plant which grows along verges and the edges of woodland and fields. You can identify it by its long straight stems topped with a small cluster of tiny white flowers, and heart-shaped leaves with a gentle, jagged edge. It is out in force in May and June and has the tangy, bitter taste of mustard along with a mild aroma of garlic when crushed. Alternatively try our recipe with stinging nettles (pick carefully), ground elder, wild garlic or cow parsley leaves. Experiment with the different flavours - each plant has different health benefits. As always, forage responsibly, only picking plants that you know and in small quantities.
Here's our wild, alternative pesto recipe. Give it a try!
1. Gather some stems of Garlic Mustard - avoid areas that have been sprayed by pesticides - try to choose the younger stems for their delicate flavour.
2. Rinse and take off the leaves from the stems.
3. Add all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and whizz together, slowly adding in the oil as you go. You could also grind the ingredients in a pestle and mortar.
4. Blend or crush to the consistency of your choice - coarse or smooth.
5. Add a little lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
6. Decant into a small kilner jar and keep in the fridge.
2 cups garlic mustard leaves
1/4 cup walnuts, hazel nuts or pine nuts
1 clove of garlic (peeled)
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 cup of olive or rapeseed oil
lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste