The damp winter hasn't been much fun for any of us, but at least the wild garlic has thrived — and Tiffany Daneff knows exactly what to do with it.
Every afternoon, members of the Country Life team will be sharing a story, an idea, a tip, a recipe or a thought for the day — something, in other words, to spread a little sunshine in troubled times. Today, it’s the turn of our gardens editor, Tiffany Daneff, who has a brilliant tip for what to do with the mounds of wild garlic which have popped up around Britain.
Each morning there’s been a new surprise in the garden. The peony has returned with a fanfare of fresh green frills and the martagon lilies are pushing up from their winter beds while the pale mint green spears of the tall bearded irises are growing by what feels like an inch every 24 hours.
But it’s in the small mixed wood which runs along the bottom of the valley that you can see the real sign that spring is springing: the floor has turned from brown to bright green in a matter of days. There are young umbellifers and the sprightly Herb Paris but mostly the ground has been swept with a lush scented carpet of ramsons.
You can smell a drift of wild garlic from a good way off and if there are some near where you live then you must make some walnut pesto. Country Life’s favourite forager John Write recommends making it with pignuts instead of pinenuts, but I favour walnuts because there are quite a few round here. Not that I have eaten a single one thanks to the grey squirrels.
If you’re tempted, here’s how to make your own wild garlic and walnut pesto — it’s absolutely delicious on wholewheat spaghetti and great on bruschetta.
Recipe: Wild garlic pesto
- A giant handful of wild garlic leaves (definitely washed, dried and carefully picked through), which will be about 90g/3oz
- A big handful of toasted walnuts, roughly 30g/1oz
- A handful of grated Parmesan
- 125ml of extra virgin olive oil
- A generous amount of seasoning
The method is almost absurdly simple: simply pop all the ingredients into a blender and switch it on until you have a paste.
Spoon into a clean jar, then and cover with more extra virgin olive oil to seal.
Served with lemon and rosemary leg of lamb or blended into hazelnut pesto, just two of our runner bean recipes
Served with roasted pheasant or baked into pesto pastry roses, these are excellent Jerusalem artichoke recipes
Our kitchen garden cook Melanie Johnson makes panna cottas with rocket.
Our kitchen garden cook reveals how to utilise tomatoes in dishes from gazpacho to meatballs.
Our kitchen garden cook gets creative with radishes for this week's recipe.