Wild Garlic Pesto

Wild Garlic

Pestos are wonderful – they’re quick, easy, cheap to make, and they pack a lovely flavoursome punch. Here are two variations that use herbs you can either grow in your garden or forage for. The first, wild garlic, pops up almost anywhere in the southern English countryside from late March, and it’s completely delicious. Alexander, which is sometimes called horse parsley, was brought here by the Romans, who used it to feed their horses.

We use these two recipes to go with everything from simple grilled fish to homemade pasta.

The glorious wild garlic season only lasts for about six weeks. To make it stretch a little longer, we like to preserve a good batch. First we blanch the leaves in boiling water for 15 seconds, after which we immediately plunge them into cold water. We pat them dry, blitz to a purée, then freeze. You can also freeze both pestos. 

Wild Garlic Pesto

Makes 250g (9oz)
• 125g (4½oz) wild garlic
• 50g (1¾oz) hazelnuts
• 50ml (2fl oz) walnut oil
• 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (we use Willy’s)
• 2½ teaspoons rapeseed oil
• a squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
• salt and pepper

As soon as you pick the wild garlic, wash it gently, then blanch in a pan of boiling water and plunge immediately into a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking process. Drain and squeeze off any excess water.

Lightly toast the hazelnuts under the grill until browned.

Put all the ingredients, except the lemon juice, salt and pepper, in a blender or food processor and pulse to a chunky paste. You’re not looking for a watery purée – it’s much nicer with larger pieces.

Add seasoning and lemon juice to taste.


Rocket & Alexander Pesto

Makes 250g (9oz)
• 150g (5½oz) rocket
• 25g (1oz) alexander (if you can’t find it, use celery leaves or flat leaf parsley)
• 5g (¹⁄⁸oz) garlic (if using on a fish dish; increase to 15g/½oz for meat)
• zest of 2 lemons, or 1 chopped preserved lemon
• 50ml (2fl oz) rapeseed oil
• salt and pepper

Put all the leaves, garlic and lemon zest in a food processor and blitz. Mix in the rapeseed oil and season to taste.

Foragers's Butter

We love dishes that look and taste impressive but are dead easy to make, and this butter is a perfect example. It's great on its own with toasted sourdough or try adding some potted mackerel and you've got a delicious lunch.

Makes 250g (9oz)
• a small handful of wild garlic
• zest of 1 lemon
• 250g (9oz) good-quality local butter, softened
• salt and pepper

Gently wash the foraged leaves and pat dry with kitchen paper and finely chop.  Stir all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon and season to taste. 

On a flat surface, spread out a double layer of clingfilm and tip your forager's butter onto it. Form the butter into a fat sausage shape, roll it up tightly and tie the ends. Chill in the fridge until firm. 


For recipes and tips from THE PIG team, pick up a copy of THE PIG BOOK - Tales & Recipes from the Kitchen Garden & Beyond 

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