Three-Cornered Leek Pesto
(Recipe at the bottom of the page)
Pesto is one of those super versatile foods which are pretty hard to mess up making and super forgiving - unless you're my dad and you blend the basil stalks along with the leaves, making for a very bitter taste.
No basil in the shops? Use spinach, kale, rocket, wild garlic, or as we did, three cornered leek. Don't even get me started on the ingredient possibilities for red pesto...
Pine nuts too pricey? Try roasting up almonds, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts or whatever nut you fancy, with a little oil and salt before using.
All out of olive oil? Vegetable or sunflower oil work just as well.
I also love pesto because just a dollop of it in many meals makes for a extra special twist; pasta is not the be all and end all of this green paste. Smear a bit on a slice of toast before your eggs, sneak it into a panini, put a few splodges on a pizza or whisk it up with a little more oil and lemon juice for a banging salad dressing. I mean, seeing as I now have about a kilo of the stuff, it's a good thing it's such an adaptable ingredient.
I don't claim to be a forager, I've recently dabbled in elderflower cordial and I've been known to scrump a few apples from orchards, but I am by no means an expert; I'll leave that to my brother, Sam (see his post on Spring foraging here)
However, after hearing rumours of a patch of wild garlic within a cycleable distance, I sent Ollie off on a mission to fill a rucksack. He did indeed return with a pungent rucksack full of green stuff, but it wasn't wild garlic - it was instead it's alium cousin, three cornered leek. Both have a slightly spicy taste and a garlicky smell, with beautiful white flowers. However, whilst three-cornered leek grows year round, wild garlic is more elusive with a March-June appearance window. Still, it worked just as well as wild garlic would have done, especially after adding 6 cloves to the mix...
Three-Cornered Leek Pesto
125g three-cornered leek (or basil, spinach, kale, rocket or wild garlic - or, a combination of any of the above)
125ml vegetable oil (or sunflower or olive - a cheap oil with no flavour is ideal)
80g pine nuts (or almonds, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts or whatever nut you fancy)
2 cloves of garlic
Table salt to taste
Lemon juice to taste
If you are using three-cornered leek, wild garlic or kale, ensure they are thoroughly cleaned before using and blanch in salted boiling water for 1 minute, before draining and submerging in iced water until cold. Make sure to thoroughly drain and squeeze any excess water out before you use your blanched greens.
Roast your nuts in a small glug of oil and a sprinkle of salt until they are nicely browned, and let them cool before using.
In a food processor, or a pestle and mortar if you're traditional, patient and strong, blend the oil and greens until fairly smooth.
Add the parmesan and blend again.
Next, add the nuts. We prefer to just pulse the pesto at this point to keep the nuts chunky for a nicer texture.
Pour the pesto into a bowl or jug and add salt and lemon juice to taste - remember, you can always add, but can't take away, so be careful and taste often to tweak it until it's just right.
Decant into a thoroughly cleaned jar or tupperware and keep in the fridge - it should last at least a week, that's if you haven't eaten it all by then.