March is leaving us like a lion – wind, driving rain and the occasional frost. But the light has changed, dawn comes earlier with a blackbird’s song, and in the gardens and woods the greenery is spreading. Sometimes this time is known as the hungry gap, the stored winter vegetables are coming to their end and the seedlings of the new season are yet to sprout. Now is the time to go foraging, in search of fresh wild spring greens to add zing and flavour to meals. My favourite is wild garlic – the richly scented green leaves made into a pesto with hazelnuts and extra virgin rapeseed oil.
50g wild garlic – just cut the leaves, leave the bulbs for the next year.
50g watercress or young spinach
Extra virgin rapeseed oil – I use Borderfields which has a lovely nutty taste to complement the hazelnuts.
salt to taste
Use a food processor – pack in the nuts & greens, set it going and begin to drizzle the oil in until you have a thick spoonable paste. Season to taste and pack into clean sterilised jars. Top with more oil to keep it fresh and seal. Keep in the fridge.
Toss a couple of teaspoons of pesto through hot gnocchi, and add a handful of fresh spinach or watercress and a grating of Parmesan.
Mix a teaspoon of the pesto with creme fraiche and use to dress a piece of grilled salmon as a quick sauce.
Try with roasted lamb – use it as a rub before putting in the oven.
Mix with mashed potatoes and serve alongside a piece of gammon.
Use on bruschetta with a little feta or goats cheese crumbled over.