Last weekend I decided that I wanted to make some wild garlic pesto – it’s the right time of year to find wild garlic (or ramsons) so I thought it would be easy to find some. I was visiting my mum and, as her house borders a little wood, we took a sneaky peek but couldn’t see any there. Later that evening we went out for a walk down the lane behind our house, across the fields and back via the pub, where we stopped off for a little (ahem) light refreshment.
I was sure we would find some wild garlic en route and I was nearly right; we could smell it – that distinct, pungent aroma – all along the lane but we couldn’t see any! This was getting silly – wild garlic is usually so easy to find. In the end, I decided the pesto would have to wait a week and made different plans for dinner.
Later in the week Martin was working up in Devon and, on the way home, he called in to visit our friends Nik and Louise. Nik’s family own a beautiful estate including some amazing woodland where he runs outdoor adventure training. Martin and Nik went out for a bit of a walk in the sunshine and were confronted by this wonderful carpet of wild garlic – as far as they could see.
I wasn’t there so I can only imagine the wonderful smell this much ramson creates – incredible. Martin gathered as much as he could carry and brought it home to me. I used my usual pesto recipe but replaced the basil and the garlic with wild garlic leaves. I made two batches – one with pine nuts and one with walnuts – they both tasted wonderful. We ate the pine nut pesto on some home made pasta and had the walnut pesto on some Barnsley chops which was rather wonderful.
It’s a good job I like the smell of wild garlic so much because, after a sunny journey home from Devon with a boot full of ramsons, the car is still somewhat odiferous…
Next time you are out for a stroll and notice that smell – pick yourself some leaves and try making some pesto, or some soup, or a wild garlic tart… You’ve got to love free food.
As always, when foraging, make sure you know what you are picking: Wild garlic leaves look similar to Lily of the Valley leaves which is inedible – if in doubt – sniff! It’s the smell that makes them identifiable.
A huge thank you to Nik – not only for our dinner but also for the photos.