Yes really! Making your own fresh pesto from stuff that’s already growing in your garden is not as crazy an idea as it may sound. Most gardens have a patch of nettles growing somewhere, or possibly wild garlic or the very similar three-cornered leek. All of these make great pesto in place of the more traditional basil leaves. They all grow wild, as weeds and are pretty invasive, so they are easy to find. If you are looking for wild garlic it seems to like shaded areas, particularly near water, and can be identified by its garlicy smell.
As quite a laid back (lazy) gardener, a part of my front garden has become fairly wild over the last few years and has been taken over by three-cornered leek. I love this, and have let it spread naturally around, so that at this time of year the garden is a beautiful green and white garlic-scented meadow. It has the most beautiful latin name too, allium triquetrum, how could you not let it thrive!
To make the pesto you need 250g (around 4 cups) of wild garlic, or three cornered leek or nettles, plus the following ingredients:
50g almonds/pine nuts/hazelnuts, lightly toasted
50g parmesan, grated
1 lemon, zest and juice
salt & pepper
– Wash the garlic/leek/nettles and chop into smaller pieces before adding into a food processor
– Add the nuts and parmesan and blend again
– Then add the lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning
– Have a taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary
– Store in a sterlised jar in the fridge
The pesto is great with pasta, and has a lovely light, fresh taste. I love a spoonful on top of a bowl of minestrone, or drizzled over homemade pizzas. I have also added it to mayo before, which makes a really nice sauce to have with fishcakes or barbequed fish and chicken.
If you’re making nettle pesto, Hugh F-W has some good suggestions on choosing and prepping the nettles here.
Hope you get to have a go at making some! It’s a great way to make the most of all this wonderful springtime greenery we have around us at the moment.