One of the positive things I can take from last year is the time I spent around two chefs who opened my eyes to a whole world of flavours and ways to using wild foods in a way which not only makes the very best of there flavours but which ones work well together in a complimentary way.
I had nettle pesto last year and enjoyed it and have made several pestos throughout the year which I will share as the ingredients are in season ,
One handful of young ransom leaves ( Allium ursinum )
One handful of crow garlic shots ( Allium vineale )
One handful of pine nuts ( nuts from any true pine tree are edible and easy to harvest )
Two spoons of Himalayan balsam seeds ( not essential ) ( Impatiens glandulifera )
Both seeds should be slightly dry roasted as they
need to be cool when added to the mix
One cup of hard cheese ( traditionally I believe Parmesan is used but I hard goats cheese that I get from a friend but is now easily available as it is more common )
Oil I find pure olive oil works best but extra virgin is ok
Half a lemon
Dried pepper dulse ( black pepper is fine ) ( Osmundea pinnatifida )
And my special ingredient is bulbils from wild leek (Allium ampeloprasum ) chopped finely .
To get the best from the flavours first bruise the ransom and crow garlic leaves and by that I mean give them a real good beating ,
Add a small amount of lemon juice it will keep the colour fresh and it helps to get a good consistency , then add the pine nuts and then continue to mash then add the leek bulbils and balsam seeds and cheese and slightly bruise than add oil until you get the desired consistency ( which is personal preference ) .
My biggest tip would be to make a large amount and separate Into portions before the cheese is added and freeze them it is important to freeze them before add the cheese
I added the balsam seeds as I find there walnut flavour works really well as with the pine nuts as to bring the nutty flavours out in the pine nuts they need to be well roasted and they loose the creamy flavour that they give when slightly browned off but a small amount of dried walnuts will be fine I also added the wild leek seeds which just add a real nice crunch to the pesto you don’t have to add these or for the same affect spring onions are fine ,
I want to mention the (Allium ampeloprasum) wild leek some more as it is my understanding that this amazing wild food is only available for a small handful of us in the uk as it only Grows wild in small populations in south-west England (Cornwall, Dorset ,Somerset) and Wales and for me to advertise this as a foragable Palnt would be slightly irresponsible .
This is a plant that could easily disappear from our tiny island relatively easily and if you are going to take advantage of this wild treasure please think before you do I personally have never actually had the pleasure of eating the main vegetable as of the two places I know it grows wild neither are exactly massive patches and I did not feel it viable to harvest the main body, but I did harvest the bulbils last year when in Dorset and one leek can produce a large amount of them per growth I filled four jam jars from three plants with a plan and boy has my plan come to fruit and within weeks i will be rewarded as two jars were intended to sow in a few locations I wanted to try near me and one of them has gone well so not only did my visit reward me with a great addition to my larder but I’ve managed to spread the distribution of this low impact valuable foraged vegetable and this works within my foraging ethos
and please take note cutting the leek body at the base enables the leek to re grow and produce a seed head so lowering the impact on the plant and it’s ability to reproduce , know what your picking and never harvest if in doubt that there’s not enough to take