In wild garlic season, I pick loads and make it into this pesto (no extra garlic added), which can be kept under a slick of olive oil in the fridge for weeks or in the freezer for much longer. Wild garlic has a strong taste when it’s raw but that mellows when you cook it. If you can’t get your hands on it, a finely chopped clove of garlic and some spinach will stand in; there is no need to soak the garlic or spinach.
- Serves: 4
- 200g dried Puy lentils
- good olive oil
- 1 banana shallot, finely chopped
- 1 bulb of fennel, finely chopped
- 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
- 50g swede, parsnip orc arrot, finely chopped
- 50g hazelnuts
- 1 unwaxed lemon
- a good bunch of wild garlic (about 50g)
- a bunch of young spinach or a bunch of young spinach or other greens (about 50g)
- First soak the lentils in boiling water for 10 minutes; this will help speed up the cooking time and make them softer. Drain the lentils and put them into a large deep saucepan with 750ml of cold water and simmer until they are cooked and soft but not falling apart - this should take between 20 and 25 minutes.
- Put another pan over a medium heat, add a little oil and then the shallot, fennel, celery and your root vegetable. Add a good pinch of salt, then cook for 10 minutes, until soft and sweet.
- Meanwhile, toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan until golden brown. Once they are nicely toasted, take off the heat. Grate in the lemon zest and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then put the pan back on the heat for a minute or so until you hear a sizzle. Transfer the lot to a bowl to cool. Once cool, roughly chop.
- Fill and boil the kettle. Once the vegetables and the lentils are both cooked, stir the vegetables into the lentils and add 500ml of hot water from the kettle. Leave to simmer on a very low heat.
- Put the wild garlic into a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for a minute, then scoop out with a slotted spoon. Squeeze out any excess water, then put into a food processor with a tablespoon of oil and enough cold water (about 2 tablespoons) to puree it.
- Stir the spinach and wild garlic puree through the soup. Serve with the lemon hazelnuts, a little more olive oil, and garlic flowers if you have them.