So, spring is in the air here in London and I've been reading plenty on what is good to eat right here, right now. Wild garlic leaves feature heavily in the food media, and this gets me excited- I imagine myself wandering English country lanes, wearing wellies and throwing a stick for my non-existent dog to fetch, while picking wild garlic to take home in a big basket for my dinner. It sounds wonderful.
The truth is, the nearest I get to foraging in country lanes is me shuffling across the street to the corner shop for a beer and a pack of salt and vinegar crisps. I suppose I could go out and collect some of the nettles that grow along the footpath to the local train station, but I'm pretty sure that those plants are accustomed to being pissed on by local dogs and drunks, so I could be forgiven for not wanting to incorporate them into my meal.
However, what I do have is Franklin's Farm Shop in East Dulwich, which is pretty much the city equivalent of the country lane scene I really have in mind. Instead of wellies I don skinny jeans and leopard-print flats, and instead of walking dogs people are wheeling their babies around in prams the size of small SUVs. Oh, and the wild garlic isn't free.
I take inspiration from Tom Norrington Davies' article in the Guardian, and decide to whiz my garlic leaves into a fragrant pesto.
Wild Garlic Pesto
2-3 big handfuls of wild garlic leaves, stems removed
10-15g pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 large handful grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
3-4 T olive oil
a squeeze of lemon juice
I use a food processor because I'm lazy, but you could use a mortar and pestle too. Whiz up the nuts first until they are finely chopped, then add your leaves. Pulse them a few times until they are roughly chopped and then add your cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then let the machine run for 30 seconds or so, drizzling more oil into the mix until you have a loose paste. Add a queeze of lemon julice for a little brightness, and you're done.