It’s wild garlic season – put it to the testo in a very simple pesto

This wonderful herb’s accessibility makes it a favourite in my larder and on my menus

Wild garlic. Photograph: iStock

Wild garlic. Photograph: iStock

 

It’s that time of year again when wild garlic springs up in our ancient woods and forests. Of all the wild herbs I have encountered over the past decade, it is one of my most loved. Perhaps it is its accessibility that makes it a firm favourite in my larder and on my menus. At this time of year, it is so small and delicate that you can eat it straight out of the ground or use it to garnish poached fish or grilled meat.

As well as being so good to eat, the herb is also a great indicator of the ways in which seasons are much more varied that we imagine them to be. The first wild garlic buds burst up out of the ground in Cork and then, after a week or so, they appear in Clare. They have just appeared in Galway, but the sunny south is certainly a few weeks ahead when it comes to spring weather.

I wonder, is this the way with all wild food? Does Donegal get its wild garlic last, or it is just my imagination?

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Wild garlic pesto

Probably the best way to make your wild garlic go the greatest distance is to make a pesto with it. A flavoured oil can also be made simply by blending and heating three parts oil to one part garlic. But the pesto is probably a better way to utilise this wild wonder. In this way it can be added quickly to pastas, stews or sauces.

For 200g of wild garlic you need 250ml of extra virgin rapeseed oil. Place both in a food processor with 125g of hazelnuts and 125g of cheese. I go for an Irish sheep’s cheese, but any mature Irish cheddar will work.

Blend everything together and season with a little sea salt. A little extra oil may be necessary.

Oriel is a nice Irish sea salt produced near Dundalk that gives an excellent finish.

I go the extra mile to make my pesto all-Irish but feel free to give it a continental sensibility by using Parmesan and olive oil.

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