If you walk in the Derbyshire countryside anytime between April and early June you are bound to come across the heady smell of wild garlic. Also known as ramsoms, this plant is usually found where fresh water flows. You can eat the leaves, stem and bulbs of this abundant plant and there is a plethora of recipes on the web to keep even the most ardent fan of wild garlic going.
In this month’s recipe I have used the leaves to make a pesto to use as the filling of a delicious picnic bread. I have added to this Balsajo Black Garlic cloves which is garlic that has been slowly aged until the sugars have caramelised and turned the cloves black, sweet and sticky. It is wonderful stuff that once you have opened a jar of it you’ll find you may have to stop yourself from scoffing the lot! The Balsajo Black Garlic does not have the usual pungent smell of fresh garlic and is therefore a lot more mellow and balsamicky in flavour. The texture is somewhere between a soft liquorice and a jelly baby. Sound strange perhaps, but it adds a lovely dimension to this loaf.
For the Pesto
4 big handfuls of wild garlic leaves, washed thoroughly
1 handful of seeds and/or nuts (sunflower, pumpkin, walnuts, almonds all work well)
80g of parmesan, grated
Juice of half a lemon
Good olive oil
Salt and pepper
For the Loaf
Mix the yeast with the water, then add the olive oil.
Mix the flour and the salt, then add the liquid. Use a dough scraper to combine the ingredients. When combined tip the dough out of the bowl onto your work surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
Put it back in the bow and leave for an hour or until doubled in size. Meanwhile make the pesto (see method below).
Preheat your oven to its maximum setting.
Dust your work surface with flour and tip the dough out onto it. Press or roll the dough into a rectangle about 1cm thick. Position the rectangle so that the long sides are facing left to right in front of you. Now spread the pesto over the rectangle leaving a 2cm strip along the bottom long side (the one closest to you) free. Brush a bit of water along this strip.
Sprinkle the Balsajo Black Garlic Cloves evenly over the pesto.
Starting at the uppermost long side of the rectangle, roll it towards you tightly like a swiss roll, all the way onto the wet strip which will seal the roll.
Now you can either place the roll as one long piece on a baking tray (lined with parchment) or shape it into a circle, squishing the ends together a bit. Cover and allow to prove for another 30-45 minutes until risen by about ¾.
Place in the preheated oven and reduce to 200°C (fan) and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Making the Pesto:
Place the wild garlic leaves into a food processor or blender and blitz until roughly chopped.
Add the grated cheese, nuts and seeds and blitz until fine. You may need to loosen it up with a few generous glugs of olive oil. Once you have achieved a smooth and spreadable consistency mix in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.