The Bitter Herbs of Spring

We’ve been getting the Seasons Veg Box from Riverford all winter. It’s been full of good things – parsnips, carrots, swede, cabbage, leeks. I’ve done loads of fun meals and it’s certainly kept us warm and comfy. But with the changing weather, I’ve really started to appreciate the old accounts you read, of people combing the countryside for dandelions and other new leaves, just to taste something fresh and tart.

In this morning’s box there was a bag full of dark green wild garlic leaves. They’re textured a bit like basil, and you get one long thin leaf on a stalk. The smell wasn’t too strong, but eating them raw gives you a wonderful garlic burn. Literally, my mouth is still stinging a bit. Mind you, I have been pigging out.

Lunch was a roast beef and garlic sandwich, on some seeded bread with a few dabs of mayo. Dinner was pasta with wild garlic pesto.

  • 2 oz about of pine nuts
  • an ounce or so of Parmesan cheese, thinly sliced or grated
  • 2 anchovies (the proper dark grey fillets in oil)
  • 100 ml thick green 0live oil
  • 2 handfuls wild garlic leaves (I suppose you could mix with basil if you want it milder)

I toasted the pine nuts and put half of them in a blender with half the cheese and the anchovies. Whizz whizz with a dribble of the oil to get it going, feed in the leaves. Add more oil to get the texture you want – thick paste or flecked sauce.

Cooked some pasta (just plain spaghetti worked well), and toss with the pesto, adding the rest of the pine nuts and cheese. Stunningly pepper hot, salty and the brightest bottle green in the world.

And there’s some pesto left, too. I foresee a poached egg on toast with green drizzle for breakfast.