Like many wild foods, the time for harvesting wild garlic is short, and then it’s gone. So having a foolproof recipe that preserves it for later use is essential if you want to enjoy wild garlic all year round. So this pesto recipe is the perfect addition to your repertoire. Sometimes, it’s the simplest dishes we enjoy the most, and who doesn’t love cheese on toast. The addition of spicy wild garlic lends this traditional snack a real flavour boost. And the contrasting nutty texture and flavour from the chunky hazelnuts helps turn a snack into a meal.
- 100g wild garlic, thoroughly washed and dried on kitchen paper
From April you’ll find plenty of wild garlic growing in the woodlands and alongside the banks of burns and rivers. Look out for dark green leaves shooting out from the ground in bunches – you should be able to identify it from its distinct garlicky aroma. If you’re a dog-owner, you should be able to find it where you take your dog for country walks.
- 60g parsley, thoroughly washed and dried on kitchen paper
- 40g hazelnuts, toasted in hot pan, in a hot oven or under a hot grill
- 50g Parmesan cheese, grated
- 150ml extra-virgin Scottish cold-pressed rapeseed oil or a light olive oil
- Juice of ¼ lemon
- Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper for seasoning
- 2 thick slices sourdough bread, or any good quality bread, toasted on one side
- 100g of your favourite cheese, grated – Scottish cheddar works well
- 1 beef tomato, washed
- A pinch of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds
- A drizzle of olive oil
Pre-heat your grill to full heat.
Begin by making the pesto. Having thoroughly washed and dried your parsley and wild garlic, gently separate them into two bunches and carefully slice each bunch into four sections. This will allow them to fit more easily into your food processor.
Place the parsley and wild garlic into your food processor along with the Parmesan cheese. Blend them together on a low power setting to initially break up the leaves. Then switch off the processor and push all the parsley and wild garlic leaves down the side of the bowl with a spatula to ensure it is all evenly chopped. Turn the processer on to a low power setting again and blend slowly. This time pour in the oil at a steady rate whilst the blade is turning until a rustic purée is formed.
Turn the blender off and add in the toasted hazelnuts. Blend them together gently for just few seconds. Make sure hazelnuts don’t turn to a powder, but retain some of their form, and most importantly, their crunch.
Remove the pesto from the processor and season to your taste with some sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.
To make the tomato stack, remove the eye from the beef tomato with the tip of a knife. Then, using a long knife, slice the tomato horizontally into eight even slices. Spread these slices out evenly on a tray and season with some sea salt, some freshly-ground black pepper and a gentle sprinkling of sugar. Then divide them into two stacks four slices ready for plating up.
Next, place a dry non-stick pan on a medium heat on the stove and toast the pumpkin seeds until they are golden brown.
For the cheese on toast, place your slices of bread under a medium-hot grill until they are crisp then remove them from the heat and turn them over. Next, evenly spread the cheese over the untoasted sides of the bread and place back under the grill until melted and bubbling.
To serve, place each slice of cheese on toast on a plate and top with a spoonful of pesto on each slice.
Place a tomato stack on each plate and top each stack with the toasted pumpkin seeds, then drizzle some olive oil over each stack, allowing the oil and the seeds to cascade onto the plate.
You can store the remainder of the pesto in fridge for several weeks in a sealable container, or you can freeze it for a later date. This pesto can be used for many simple meals – try it with some pasta and pan-fried courgette slices and chunks of mozzarella.