Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wild Garlic North Fife

Wild Garlic, what a treat, it grows in abundance in North Fife, is a fabulous early wild food that has exceptional culinary and medicinal benefits. Given its antibacterial, antibiotic, and antiseptic  properties, it makes sense to pack as much into your diet as you can. The headline health benefit of garlic is its effectiveness in reducing blood pressure and, hence, heart disease and the risk of stroke. Although all garlic has this property, wild garlic has the greatest effect on lowering blood pressure.
Emerging at this time are stinging nettles, brilliant, as a food, highly nutritious particularly for the lungs. No reason why it can't be added to a pesto.

A stand of wild garlic in a wood near Cupar North Fife.

Wild Garlic flowers and buds with a stem of ground elder which is a a good addition to salads also.

Homemade pesto sauce is very easy to make and is essentially a paste of greens, parmesan, garlic and nuts with some olive oil. If you don’t have any wild garlic you can easily just substitute in other greens like basil, rocket but you would have to add in some garlic. Nuts, Pine nuts are traditional but almost any will do, it's a matter of taste and availability  Roasting the nuts definitely make a difference to the flavour of the pesto so try not to miss this step.
Recipes abound, you may wish to try:-
100g freshly picked wild garlic leaves
50g shallot, spring onions or leeks
50g shelled walnuts
200 ml olive oil, sunflower oil or rapeseed oil
50-60g mature hard cheese, Parmesan or similar hard, mature cheese), finely grated
½ - 1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon sugar.

Easy homemade pesto recipe with wild garlic, Parmesan, cashew nuts and olive oil.

    100g (3½ oz) wild garlic
    100g (3½ oz) Parmesan cubes
    100g (3½oz) roasted cashew nuts.
    Ground black pepper
    100ml ( ½ cup) extra virgin olive oil


Heat a frying pan and add in the cashew nuts and dry roast them stirring frequently till they are golden and then transfer to a cool container immediately (or they will keep cooking on the hot frying pan).
Put wild garlic, parmesan, cashew nuts, salt and pepper into a food processor and whizz into a paste.
If you like your pesto chunky then whizz for a shorter time than you would if you want it smoother.
Transfer paste into a container and slowly drizzle in olive oil mixing all the time till pesto is saturated.
Adjust seasoning and serve.

Feel free to play around with the quantities of nuts, cheese and greens to suit your own taste. Alternatively you can roast the nuts in the oven at fan assisted 140C/ 160C/ 350F/ Gas 4 for about 15 mins. Pesto turns darker if left in contact with air. This is perfectly fine to eat. To try and avoid it turning dark you can cover the surface of the pesto with a layer of olive oil. I have frozen pesto for up to 3 months. Usually devoured before then so you can see one can never make too much.

Tonight I enjoyed some wild garlic pesto smeared onto Maultashen (meat, herb filled pasta) with a wild salad.

Now is the time, get out there and gather I'm sure you'll be delighted.

When harvesting today, along the way a pair of Mallards took interest probably in the expectation of food. Here they are, a beautiful Drake and Duck.