Wild Garlic Hey-Pesto!
During the holidays, I am lucky enough to work for Chomp, family food and fun whilst schools are off. I love this part of my working calendar, spending time with families and people across Brighton’s lively community. I also love the fact that such a greenly healthy dish as pesto, goes down so well with so many a fussy child. The idea of these workshops is to have fun together whilst making great food to share. It is by coming together to make their own pesto, their own way, that gets people on board. As well as those green leaves with their white flowers enticing people’s foraging curiosity to the table….!
I get people to ‘taste test’ their way through quantities, using their intuition, senses and children to guide them. One rule I use is: “You can always add more!” It’s a great reminder that we know so much more than we think we do! We tend to put the knowledge out there, with the experts, but actually, if we allow our imaginations and the researcher-gatherer in us to set the pace, we find our ‘inner recipe guide’. By using recipes as starting points for our own ideas to simmer, we make a slice of creative confidence, a reminder of our potential, to take into life with us.
We are naturally drawn to fresh leaves and cheese is an incredibly tempting ingredient (perfect ratio of protein to fat, that captivates our ‘body brain’). Freshly foraged from the woods, my sense of earthy pleasure flows. Out of season, I use the same recipe with garlic cloves, using growing herbs such as mint or the classic basil, but always with the understated, frozen pea. Full of protein, sweetly green and packed with vitamins, in a freezer near you, they’re a true kitchen trooper. Traditional pesto brings more fuel on board with nuts, but I use seeds (sunflower and pumpkin) partly because they’re cheaper, to avoid allergy issues, but mainly because I love reminding kids that they’re taking in ‘sunflower and pumpkin power’ into their bodies - delicious, healthy fun.
Here’s how to make this month’s Hey Pesto:
- Soak seeds for at least 4 hours to activate their nutrition trigger.
- Pick some wild garlic from lowland woods. Your nose should guide you towards it, swathes of luscious, onion family emerald green. Wash thoroughly and roughly chop roughly.
- Defrost handful (per person) or so of peas (if you’ve got some over, you can add as garnish or into a salad). No need to cook them, this way they remain full of their potential, and are easier for you to use!
- Crumble in packet of feta (any cheese you like is fine, I just think this works the best).
- If you have it, some cream cheese softens the flavours and adds more luxury.
- Zest and juice of at least one lemon
- Few glugs of olive oil.
- Salt and pepper to taste (you might not need any salt with the garlic and lemon doing their tasty job so well)
- Drain and rinse your seeds, then with everything added to bowl…
- Either mash with fork, pestle and mortar or blitz in a blender for a smoother (more washing up) finish.
- Use as carrot stick dip, with pasta for dinner, in a sandwich for lunch, as an alternative to tomato pizza base… or just straight from the bowl.!!! ps. added bonus: as part of the onion family, wild garlic is a PREBIOTIC, which means it feeds the good PROBIOTIC bacteria in our guts