22 May 2013

Wild Ramson Pesto (aka Garlic Broccoli Pesto)

There is an explanation: A new volunteer
was arriving and we very reasonably
thought she should walk in on a nice, genial
scene of murder. (Nobody was fooled.)
Between trying to scare new volunteers into thinking that we're dead and making some very amazing scones, we've been getting on pretty well here at the pub.

Ok, I'm unexaggerating, it's amazing here. I'm living above an authentic pub on the Devon coast of England. I'm "working" maaaybe four hours a day. There is a three-legged dog, there are endless coastal hikes, there's house-smoked local trout,  a fine espresso machine, Sunday roasts, and poached free-range eggs any time I please.

What else could a girl want??
Low tide
Nothin' better than a leaping lamb
No matter how hard you try Lucy, that shoe is not going to fit your nonexistent paw
Neil the chef's Sunday roast being made as I hover nearby waiting for crispy bits.
Actually, there is one thing...I would like to have a boundless supply of some previously unknown-to-me form of garlic.

Wait, you have that? you have a previously unknown-to-chowgypsy form of garlic??

Oh life, why must you be so grand?!
Several of the houses throughout the small village of Lee Bay  have little signs such as this one advertising the eggs from their backyard chickens. Quaint is the word.
And so it is that I have discovered "wild garlic," more technically known as ramsons, especially technically known as Allium ursinum, and additionally called "bear's garlic" (because bears know what's up). I suppose it's not actually garlic at all, but it certainly smells like it even if it doesn't look the part, and beggars can't be choosers. And even if you're not a beggar, you's a damn fool if you purposely miss out on this.
Bill (our host) had a neighbor who needed this wild garlic "cleared out" of her garden. Oh, we'll clear it out all right. 
Ramsons are simply aromatic leaves that smell (you guessed it) of garlic and taste like a very young and mild bulb, but in leaf form. You can eat the leaves (just don't pick the ones with bird poop on them) and the white flower bulbs for a big garlicky burst. The flowers themselves are also edible, but lots of flowers means the leaves have probably gone a bit tough and bitter. As far as those leaves go, throw them in a salad, soup, omelette, use in bruschetta, or if you want to follow one odd suggestion, put on a peanut butter sandwich.
The tasty ramson bulb, which is a nice bursty addition to salads along with the leaves
The white-petaled flowers that cover everything when the time is right, but also signal a decline of the leaves' "edibility"
And of course, you can make wild garlic pesto. And you can add a bit of raw broccoli to secretly boost the nutrition and add some beautiful texture. You can even add real garlic to said pesto.  And then you can love and kiss everybody in the world.
Did somebody say pesto?
Healthy Ramson Pesto (Wild Garlic Pesto) with Broccoli
Ingredients*
4 cups ramson
1 cup raw broccoli, chopped
2 cups toasted nuts (anything but peanuts should work fine, I used walnuts and hazelnuts)
2 cloves coarsely chopped garlic or 4 cloves roasted garlic
1/2-3/4 cup EVOO
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
*I chose to take a healthier approach and decide (quite sinfully), not to add cheese to this recipe. There's plenty of flavor as is, but you can add cheese to taste or as a side when serving the pesto.

Directions
Pulse all ingredients except the EVOO in a food processor. With processor on low speed, slowly add EVOO until desired consistency is reached. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add grated aged cheese to taste when serving.
I can go through a batch of this stuff in about three days, and as long as I don't sweat a lot or talk close to other people's faces, I'm ok. What's your record?
A closer look at the ramsons. When in doubt, rub a leaf between your fingers and use your nose, the garlicky, spring oniony smell is unmistakable.

Ahhh, it's nice to be somewhere with a commercial kitchen at my disposal.

Up next, let's talk more about that amazing Devon coast, shall we?

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