“Eww, Michael… get away from me… you stink of garlic”, my beloved Aunty Margaret always shrieks at me, if I go to hug her after imbibing my favourite pungent food, which I do quite a lot. Some garlic-lovers get paranoid about the smell of their breath after imbibing, but that’s never concerned me. Like it or lump it as they say! Last summer I was introduced to a delightful lady at a party – she told me all about her Vegetarianism, I told her about the joys of deer stalking, and as Lauren got squiffier, she repeatedly apologised for her strong garlic-breath. But it really wasn’t a problem! If you’re a garlic-lover that worries about ‘bad’ breath, in this COVID-induced time of ‘social distancing’ there has surely never been a better time to throw caution to the wind, and gorge on your favourite kitchen stink.
In early-spring, wild garlic runs rampant through the woods. It is a sight and smell to behold. A harbinger of another breeding season. It brings joy. Sitting in a woodland glade, listening to the dawn chorus with warming sunshine spilling on your face and the aroma of garlic up your nostrils, is a lovely place to be. You don’t necessarily need woodland to find wild garlic. It grows along hedgerows. It grows in parks. It grows in gardens. It grows in churchyards. It grows along footpaths and bridleways and there are great swathes of the stuff running alongside pavements leading into my local city of Salisbury. Although now certainly isn’t the time to go out foraging just for fun, we are encouraged to go outside for daily exercise, and a few big handfuls of wild garlic leaves are probably within reach of most of us, without having to flout our Governments sensible rules on helping to prevent the spread of the wretched coronavirus.
Making wild garlic pesto is always a seasonal treat for us. It’s an absolute cinch to make and it doesn’t require any fancy ingredients. It was, in fact, the first recipe that I offered up for Gamewise and you can find my recipe here. Although in the original version, I used pine nuts, I’ve since found that pesto tastes even better made with pecan nuts, which are more readily available than pine nuts and a darn sight cheaper to buy. Use the same quantity of pecans, but finely chop them into crumbly morsels before adding them to your pesto. And if you don’t have pecans, then try hazelnuts or walnuts. They’re both good in it too.
Wild garlic pesto spread over toasted flour tortillas, to make a super-thin crust ‘pizza’ is always a winner in our house; if you don’t have tortilla wraps, then smear it over some toast. Or if you have some flour and eggs in your kitchen, then why not have a go at making your own fresh pasta dough? A pasta rolling machine is helpful, but not a necessity: you can use a rolling pin instead. Homemade pasta tastes so much better than the commercial dried stuff that comes from a packet. The internet is loaded with advice on how to make it, so I won’t explain how to do that here, but it is easy to make, and very therapeutic. The secret ingredient is ‘time’ which a lot of people unexpectedly have right now. If you have young kids, make pasta with them: it’s fun, and messy, and they will probably thank you for it. So, wild garlic pesto with fresh pasta. Utterly delicious. Give it a whirl, but please don’t break any rules in the process.