Good squeeze of lemon juice Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
WILD GARLIC is a real treasure to be found at this time of year. The younger the leaves, the better.. Certainly try to pick them before they flower – after this the flavour becomes fainter and less aromatic. See picture below for perfect picking size!
The picked leaves wilt very quickly so either use them as soon as you get home or keep them covered in the fridge.
This recipe is approximate; scale up or down depending on your taste.
The simplest method is to put everything except the oil in a food processor, blitz for a few seconds, then continue to whiz while slowly adding the olive oil through the funnel. Transfer to a jar, pour sufficient olive oil on top to keep the pesto covered, close the lid and store it in the fridge. It will keep for several weeks. If you prefer a coarser texture, (I do) blitz the elements individually (cheese, then nuts, then garlic and wild garlic together) Blend the oil into the greens, as above, then stir in the nuts and cheese at the end. Top with a layer of oil, as before.
We’ve all heard about NETTLES and the virtues of ‘nettle soup’ but did you know that nettles beat both spinach and broccoli for vitamins and minerals? I didn't! Not only that, they are rich in iron, they help arthritic pain, act as a natural liver detoxifier and are even an antihistamine! And they are FREE! Whats not to love?! Get them in the next few weeks before they get tall and tough. The flavour changes when they approach flowering. You can use nettles anywhere you would use spinach; in a Risotto (add some sorrel, if you have it) in a Frittata or Omelette, or a Greek Spanakopitta.
Polly’s Recipe for Nettle Soup (V) Serves six.
Approx 150g nettle tops (half a carrier bag full) 40g knob of butter 1 smallish onion, peeled and diced 1 large leek, trimmed, washed and finely sliced 1 celery stick, chopped or 1 carrot, chopped 1 large clove garlic, peeled and chopped 2 tbsp white rice, such as basmati 1 litre vegetable (or chicken) stock Sea salt and freshly ground pepper 6 heaped tbsp thick, plain yoghurt, to finish 1 small bunch chives, to garnish, or a few drops of Tabasco/Hot sauce
Pick over the nettles, wash them thoroughly and discard the tougher stalks. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium-low heat, add the onion, leek, celery (or carrot) and garlic, cover and sweat gently for 10 minutes, stirring a few times, until soft but not brown. Add the rice and stock, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the nettles, stirring them into the stock as they wilt, and simmer for five minutes or so, until the rice and the nettles are tender (very young nettle tops will need only two to three minutes). Season with plenty of salt and pepper. Purée the soup in two batches, reheat if necessary and check the seasoning. Serve in warmed bowls, topping each portion with a large dollop of yoghurt and a generous sprinkling of snipped chives.