Recipe: There’s rich pickings outdoors... gather wild garlic while you can

Di Curtin goes foraging for this latest dish
Recipe: There’s rich pickings outdoors... gather wild garlic while you can

Penne with Wild Garlic Pesto by Di Curtin

A WALK along a thriving hedgerow at this time of year may well reveal a clump of wild garlic waiting to be picked. You’ll know you’ve found some when you can smell the subtle garlic aroma in the air.

The leaves are flat and broad, tapering to a point and very soft. Flowers are delicate and white, protruding from the plant on thin stalks.

If you find wild garlic in flower, you can use the blossoms as an edible decoration in whatever you’re making. I have a patch of wild garlic growing at the top of my garden every year.

This foraged plant can be used in salads and most savoury dishes, from potato gratin to a casserole and anywhere you’d use normal garlic cloves. It also makes great pesto, which is what I’m doing this weekend for a fast pasta supper.

You need quite a bit of wild garlic to make a decent jar of pesto. 

Always remember to forage from quieter lanes where traffic pollution doesn’t damage the plants. Avoid busy roads and if you have to access someone’s land to forage, please always ask permission and avoid livestock!

Always give your garlic a good shake to get rid of any ‘creatures’ and rinse and pat dry before use. Three to four good handfuls of wild garlic is what you need for this recipe.

Making the pesto is exactly the same as for basil pesto, with all the same remaining ingredients. Depending on the strength of the wild garlic in your patch, the result can be subtle or extremely heady.

My pasta dish combines wild garlic pesto with cream cheese and slivers of Parma ham in a delicious but fast supper knocked up in no time.


Ingredients (Serves 4)

400g penne pasta

3 tbsp cream cheese

100g wafer thin Parma ham slices, cut into slivers

For the pesto:

250mls extra virgin olive oil

60g whole hazelnuts

3 good handfuls wild garlic leaves, rinsed, patted dry and roughly chopped

2 tbsp freshly grated

Parmesan cheese

Squeeze of lemon juice to taste

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Cook pasta in lightly salted boiling water till just al dente.
  • While the pasta is cooking make the pesto. Place the oil and nuts into a blender and whizz till the nuts are chopped.
  • Add wild garlic, Parmesan and lemon juice and whizz again. Season.
  • When pasta is ready, drain and return to pan. Add 3 good tsp wild garlic pesto.
  • Spoon remaining pesto into a jar and drizzle with oil before sealing with a lid.
  • Add cream cheese and parma ham to pasta and stir over gentle heat till cheese has melted.
  • Serve on warmed plates topped with extra slivers of ham and basil leaves for decoration. Add a few extra drops of pesto on the side of the plate.

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