Garlic mustard, aka Jack o' the hedge, is the plant that Orange Tip butterflies lay their eggs on - so only forage where there is a plentiful supply. And look out for eggs when harvesting this edible wildflower/weed! Garlic mustard is a wildflower we have allowed to flourish in our garden (by leaving some shady patches unmown) for the butterflies, but also as it is edible it has benefit for us. The light green leaves live up to the plant's name by having a strong garlic flavour so are a lovely addition to a salad, or chopped and mixed into butter when making garlic bread. However the best use must be this delicious pesto! Avoid using large, dark green leaves as these can be bitter.
Ingredients (with a few alternatives as we know the challenges of lock-down shopping!):
- 150g garlic mustard leaves or young nettles, or a mixture (this is around a half a carrier bag full)
- 50g parmesan or vegetarian alternative, finely grated
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- ½ lemon zested and a few squeezes of juice or a glug of lemon juice from a bottle
- 50g pine nuts, toasted or walnuts
- 150ml rapeseed oil
- Rinse and roughly chop the mustard garlic leaves.
- Blitz the leaves, hard cheese, garlic, lemon zest (if using) and nuts to a rough paste in a food processor. Season, and with the motor running slowly, add almost all the oil. Taste, season and add a few squeezes of lemon juice.
- Transfer the pesto to a clean jar and top with the remaining oil. Will keep in the fridge for two weeks.