Here he gives us a little taste of his passion for nature’s bounty…
Spring brings with it an abundance of ingredients. The wild foods that lie around us couldn’t be more local, fresh or truly seasonal – and even better, they’re free!
Throughout spring, wild garlic is out in force; on nearly every walk I take I find mounds of the stuff, we can’t get away from it. This damp woodland loving plant can be found in abundance on river verges and around areas of water. The distinctive garlic smell makes it easy to identify, the abundance of its growth makes it easy to harvest and the superb flavour means it can suit almost every savoury meal.
Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum)
Wild garlic goes into leaf from as early as February. Its leaves are spear shaped with a pointed tip, and can range from 5-15cms in length and 3-6cm wide. Each plant has one single flower head that looks like a white pompom sat on top of a pole growing from the centre of its rosette of leaves. The root resembles a small but elongated clove of garlic.
Wild Garlic Pesto Pasta
The pesto I make with wild garlic is thick, chunky and delicious. It can be used with a huge range of recipes, from stuffing mushrooms to serving as wild garlic bread and of course the classic pesto and pasta – it’s truly versatile and can be and kept in the freezer for whenever you need it.
This recipe is quick, easy and has that classic taste that only simple cooking and fresh ingredients give you.
Preparation and Cooking: 10 mins
– One handful/50g fresh wild garlic (stems and leaves)
– 80g cob nuts – crushed (or mixed nuts)
– 80g vegetarian Italian-style hard cheese, grated (plus a little extra for the topping)
– 100ml olive oil
– Basil, to taste
– ½ lemon (juice only)
– 400g dried Conchiglie pasta (pasta “shells”)
– Salt and pepper, to taste
Bring a pan of water to the boil, add a pinch of salt and the dried pasta.
To make the pesto: Roughly chop the wild garlic and add to a food processor. Add the cob nuts and basil and blend, 10 seconds at a time, so it’s well mixed but still crunchy. Add the lemon juice and mix to combine.
Put the pesto in a bowl and add the grated cheese and the olive oil gradually until you reach a consistency you’re happy with, season to taste.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it then stir in the pesto.
Enjoy with garlic bread and top with extra vegetarian Italian-style hard cheese.
Note: The pesto can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks or alternatively bag and freeze and eat within one year.
James Wood’s book ‘The Foragers’ Cookbook’ is now available through Amazon. (Please note: This book also contains non-vegetarian recipes.)