Last week the Italian government announced that we would be free to take our exercise in the mountains for the first time since the COVID-19 lockdown began on 9th March, which meant a trip this weekend to the foothills of the Italian Alps just a few kilometres from our home. The weather wasn’t great but it didn’t matter. A morning of mountains, trees and the churning waters of the Pesio river was exactly what was needed. Plus an unexpected bonus…the wooded slopes on the walk back down were covered in wild garlic, the perfect ingredient for a homemade pesto to serve with pumpkin stuffed ravioli later that day.
A good handful of wild garlic leaves and flowers A handful of almonds A chunk of Parmesan cheese 2 tbsp olive oil
This is very simple but you do need a food processor. It is certainly possible to make pesto by hand but only if you have time to spare chopping and grinding your nuts into a fine paste!
Add the nuts and Parmesan to the processor and whiz together until fine. Then wash and roughly chop the wild garlic, leaving aside a few flowers for decoration. Add to the processor and blend together adding the olive oil to make a smooth paste. The pesto might seem rather dry compared to the kind normally bought in a supermarket but the cheese will melt when you heat it in the pan. You can also add some pasta water at that stage to loosen it further if necessary.
I served my pesto with some shop bought ravioli stuffed with pumpkin (zucca) but you could serve with any pasta or just dollop into onto a baked potato if you prefer. Either way its utterly delicious. And as with all recipes involving foraged ingredients, there is something very satisfying about turning a few leaves collected on a woodland walk into a delicious vegetarian dish.