There is nothing quite like nipping out to the garden to pick a few ingredients for whatever dish you are making. The only trouble is, you have to have been organized enough to plant ‘said’ ingredient months earlier, and much as I would like to be as forward thinking as Martha Stewart, I rarely am. So wild garlic really is the ultimate ingredient for those, like myself, who like the idea of being green fingered but never are. Around the middle of March it springs to life, with not so much as a finger lifted earlier in the year. It grows well in a damp environment, usually around trees and hedges. So it is extremely easy to find in rainy UK and Ireland. The striking white flowers set against lush green leaves are easy to spot once you know what they look like. I spent years walking straight past loads of it in my garden until someone told me! So have a look at the photos and get acquainted with this wonderful free herb. It can be used raw in salads, cooked down with fish or pasta, made into a pesto or sauce… the possibilities are endless.
Here, the simple pairing of wild garlic pesto with baby new potatoes is a celebration of spring’s new crop. Simple and delicious.
Place the new potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water and bring to the boil. Then reduce to a simmer and cook until a sharp knife glides into the centre.
While they are cooking make your pesto. If there is still any root left on the base of the wild garlic leaves, cut them off. In a food processor, blitz together the cashew nuts, garlic and wild garlic leaves until well combined. Then slowly add in enough olive oil to reach your desired consistency. It’s best when it is reasonably loose, but if you like a thicker pesto that is fine. Season with a good pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper, the salt helps to bring out the flavour so don’t be too mean with it.
Once the potatoes are cooked through, drain off the water and leave in the hot pan. While they are still warm, roughly break the potatoes in half, I find the blunt edge of a spoon works well as it’s nice to get a rough edge. Then add in the pesto and gently mix together until well coated. Taste and season with a little extra salt and pepper if necessary.
Plate up in a big serving dish with the white wild garlic flowers sprinkled over the top.
Yield: 2 - 4 Servings
500g Baby new potatoes
2 big handfuls of wild garlic – white flower removed and kept aside and leaves washed and dried
100g Cashew nuts – roasted at 180 C until golden
2 cloves garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper