Monday, 14 May 2012

Smokey bacon and spinach gnocchi with wild garlic and walnut pesto

Smokey bacon and spinach gnocchi with wild garlic and walnut pesto

Caught a whiff of onionyness as you are driving around the countryside? Noticed swathes of lush green vegetation dotted with white flowers as you wander through your local woodlands? That’ll be the wild garlic, also known as ramsons. All the TV chefs are on about it right now, it’s free, abundant and tasty, why not give it a try for your tea?

The season for ramsons (Allium ursinum) is upon us, beginning in March and continuing until June these plants are common in damp woodlands throughout the UK   

Legally you can pick the leaves of wild garlic, but you can’t uproot the plant, and in terms of similar looking plants that are poisonous – the only real contender is lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) or possibly autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) so be careful, but they do look quite different really, and ONLY ramsons will smell of garlic when you crush the leaves.
You can add them to salads, stews, dips, or like me in pesto! In uncooked leaves the garlicy flavour can be quite strong, but the more you cook it the milder this gets, and it doesn’t take very much at all before the taste is quite mild and mellow, so be careful not to overcook it.

Super easy recipe:
Smokey bacon and spinach gnocchi with wild garlic and walnut pesto

Ingredients: serves 2 (quantities are approximate, you don’t have to worry too much about perfection to make this work)

Pesto: makes around 10 servings
2-3 handfuls washed ramsens
60g salted butter
60g finely grated parmesan
100g walnut pieces
2-3 TBsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Additional ingredients:
5 rashers Smoked bacon
Couple of handfuls washed baby spinach
600g Potato gnocchi (I bought pre-made but you could make your own)

Put your ramsens, parmesan, butter, walnuts, seasoning and olive oil in a blender and whiz until they form a smooth paste.

In the meantime cook your gnocchi (boil it for a few minutes), blanch your spinach (I steamed mine for a minute or two on top of the boiling gnocchi pan) and grill your bacon until it is nice and crispy.

Chop up your bacon and spinach, drain your gnocchi and stir it all together with a couple of spoonfuls of your pesto.

To take off the full hit of raw garlic I microwaved my plates of food for c.30 seconds before serving.

Dress with a few bits of chopped walnut, a grating of parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.

And Voila! Enjoy!   

You’ve probably got quite a bit of pesto left. This can be stored in jars for about a month in the fridge. Spoon your pesto into a clean jar and cover the top surface with a couple of millimeters of olive oil to keep the air off your pesto.



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