Spring is in full swing with the daffodils come and nearly gone. Summer is on its way and, despite my constant complaints of Southeast England's too-cool summers, I'm still happy to see it coming. The days are longer (have I mentioned the day the clocks go forward is my favourite of the year?) and the extra light has an enthusastic effect on my desire to cook. How could it not? Light makes me happy, and happiness is inspirational!
In my Riverford box last week came a treat of which I had not yet heard, let alone tried: wild garlic leaves. Unsure of how to use this potently tasteful leaf, I took to the interwebs. Should I use it to add delicate flavour to a risotto, to steam-wrap a veggie protein, to garnish a salad? How about pesto! Alas, it seems that was not a unique idea as many a foodie presented a recipe.
"But they aren't vegan and I can do something different," said I. Thus I gave myself the task of creating a tasty vegan version.
Pesto generally contains a hard fat cheese like parmesan or pecorino (which are not vegetarian- you need to find a specially made hard fat veggie cheese like Twineham Grange). As this is a vegan recipe, I used a mixture of nuts as replacement. If you don't have the exact mixture I chose, feel free to experiment with what's in your store cupboard!
I generally start the process by chopping the leaves up finely first and slowly adding more to the mortar as the leaves are pounded down. This is because my pestle and mortar is quite small and if I do it any other way then bit spill over the side, furthering my already terrible reputation as a messy cook. If you have a great big pestle and mortar then this won't be a big issue, or if you don't want to bother with it then a food processor works too. I personally like to take my anger out on things with this particular kitchen instrument, but that's just me.
Oh, and don't fear if you're using almonds which still have skins. The easiest way to de-skin almonds is to simply place them in boiling water for a few minutes. After you drain them you'll see the almonds pop easily out of their skin. Be careful not to shoot them across the kitchen, however, a warning I must impart based on personal experience.
Vegan Wild Garlic Pesto Recipe
- Toast the almonds in an oil free skillet over medium heat, stirring or agitating the pan frequently to avoid burning, until the nuts have a few golden brown spots.
- If you are using a blender or food processor, add all ingredients and pulse until a paste forms.
- Alternatively, use a pestle and mortar. Grind the nuts down, but try to keep some chunks in for texture. Remove nut mixture and put in a separate bowl.
- Use the pestle and mortar to mix all of the other ingredients. Add half of the oil and the leaves and pound well before adding the remaining oil, mustard, vinegar, and salt.
- Finally add the nuts back into the pesto and mix well before placing in a sealed container.
- Refrigerate overnight or for at least a few hours in order for the flavours to infuse and mellow (this is just a personal preference).