Wild Garlic Pesto and Tomato Pasta Bake
Wild Garlic Pesto and Tomato Pasta Bake

Wild Garlic Pesto and Tomato Pasta Bake

Wild Garlic Pesto is a classic use of the bountiful Wild Garlic leaves in the Spring. I am always on the look out for new uses for it. Here are some new and old ideas:

  • Toss through pasta, gnocci or veg
  • Swirl on top of soups
  • Use on bruschetta or crostini
  • Spread on bread with hummus
  • Stuff or coat chicken or fish – as is or mixed with butter
  • Use as a salad dressing
  • Mix in to mashed potato or potato salad
  • Use as a dip
  • Put on prawns
  • Bake into your favourite bread dough
  • Put on baked potato
  • Try as a sandwich filling
  • Wild garlic cheese scones!
  • Stir into risotto
  • Add a spoonful to egg dishes like an omelette or frittata
Wild Garlic flowers
Wild Garlic flowers

Feeling inspired the other day, I made up my own recipe “Wild Garlic Pesto and Tomato Pasta Bake” – recipe below. Serve with a nice green salad – ideally foraged!

Read more about Wild Garlic – finding, season, id, other uses etc. here.

Wild Garlic Pesto

Pick your favourite recipe from the many online or adapt the below. The below is vegetarian-friendly omitting Parmesan cheese. It is a recipe that you can freely tweak to your own personal tastes. You can freeze the sauce in ice-cube containers, which will then give you a supply of this wonderful pesto throughout the year. Alternatively, it will keep in a jar in the fridge for a couple of months if covered with a layer of oil.

Ingredients:
Serves 4 – 6

  • 50g pinenuts
  • 75g hazelnuts (or all walnuts)
  • 175ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 150g fresh very young tender garlic leaves
  • 2 tbsps lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Options / Alternatives:

  • Nuts – cashews, almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts in place of the pinenuts
  • Oil – Olive, Rapeseed or Sunflower
  • Cheese – Parmesan, hard goats cheese or even a strong cheddar
  • If you prefer your pesto a little crunchy you can add the nuts at the end and blend a little more
  • Basil

Method:

  1. Wash and dry the wild garlic leaves.
  2. In a food processor crush the pine nuts and hazelnuts roughly and then decant them into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Puree the wild garlic leaves with a pinch of salt with the olive oil just enough to break up the leaves to a rough texture.
  4. Add the lemon juice and mix.
  5. Pour the wild garlic mixture into the crushed nuts and stir in.
  6. Season to taste.

 

Wild Garlic Pesto
Wild Garlic Pesto

Pesto Pasta Bake

Ingredients:
Serves 4

  • 400g pasta e.g. Penne
  • Pesto
  • 1 – 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 – 2 cups of cheese (mozzarella or cheddar)
  • 1 onion, chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C Fan/Gas mark 6.
  2. Get some hot water heating up for the pasta.
  3. Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the oil and gently cook the onion with a pinch of salt for 4-5 minutes or until soft and translucent.
  4. Add the tomatoes, season with a pinch of salt and pepper and turn down the heat. Gently simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile cook the pasta in a pan of salted boiling water according to the packet instructions.
  6. Once cooked, drain and pour into the pan with the tomato mixture.
  7. Add the pesto and some of the cheese and mix well.
  8. Pour this into a medium-sized ovenproof baking dish. Top with the rest of the cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until bubbling and golden.