Thursday, 19 April 2012

Wild Garlic and Basil Pesto with Fresh Pasta

We are mad for wild garlic here at Soup Tuesday.  The wild garlic, chorizo and black pudding soup has proven to be one of our most popular recipes, and as we love the taste so much, here's another wild garlic heavy recipe.

I remember when I was getting into food - I mean starting to appreciate food and enjoy making new and unusual recipes - two things seemed alien to me. One of them was making your own pasta, which seemed like a crazy science experiment mixed with the finer points of knitting (for some reason) and the kind of thing that chefs on TV talk about, but no-one in their right minds would ever bother with in the safety of their own kitchen (possibly even including Italian matriarchs, as seen in Dolmio adverts and the films of Martin Scorsese)

A quick straw poll of friends revealed that whilst many had pasta makers, most of these were consigned to bottoms of drawers or tops of cupboards, after being used once, discovering what a phaff it was and then being put alongside slow cookers, ice-cream makers and bread makers in the graveyard of kitchen gadgets.

Having just discovered the wonders of slow cookers and bread makers (and whilst not owning an ice-cream maker, it's on the list of things to buy) it seemed like the time to face my inner cookery demons and get out the pasta maker that had been recently received as a birthday present, after all, how hard can it be? At least one person on Team Soup has a PhD! and we were determined not to let our machine rest in gadget hell...

Lo and behold, it was actually quite easy, and now I'm more than a little bit addicted to fresh pasta. So the moral of this story is this - go, dig out your pasta maker - yes, I know you have one, in the same place my was languishing- and have another go - I promise you won't look back...

The other thing I couldn't get my head around was olive oil.  I know it sounds strange, but the idea of using oil for anything other than frying things with, to my mind sounded like madness, especially in something like a pesto - just herbs and oil?  Urgh, won't it be all greasy?

After biting the bullet and trying the stuff (I should note that these attitudes were directly the result of growing up in the 70's where Spaghetti Bolognese was the most exotic food I was exposed to, and Arctic Roll was considered a delicacy..) I found out it was actually really nice.

And what better way to use some lovely wild garlic than in a pesto? If you make lots, you can always put it into ice-cube trays and freeze it, or have it with the home made pasta that I persuaded you to try earlier...


For the Pesto
30g Wild Garlic
30g Basil
30g Hazelnuts
30g Parmesan
90ml Olive Oil

For the pasta
250g plain flour / pasta flour
1tsp Salt
1 Egg and 3 more egg yolks, lightly beaten
1tbsp Olive Oil

125g Button Mushrooms
Handful of Spinach leaves
Pancetta Cubes


Make the pesto first, which couldn't be easier.  Toast the hazelnuts lightly, in a dry frying pan, heat them until they start to colour, then set aside.  Then throw everything in a food mixer and blitz until it turns into a beautiful bright green paste.  This can then be refrigerated until needed.

Next, make the pasta.  I used pasta flour, which is finer than plain flour, but if you can't get it, then plain will do just fine.  Sieve the flour and salt into a pile on a clean surface, then make a well in the middle.  Pour in the beaten eggs and oil and start to bring the mixture together with your finger tips.

After a while, the mixture will start to come together, but if it's too dry, add some water, sparingly as you don't want to make it too wet.  Once it forms a ball, need for about 5 minutes, until the dough becomes smooth and a bit elastic.  Then wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Run the pasta through your pasta maker, according to the instructions, and then cook in slated boiling water for 3-4 minutes.

In a thick bottomed pan, fry your pancetta cubes and mushrooms until they are golden, then throw in the spinach leaves and let them wilt.

Drain the pasta over the sink, then return to the pan and stir in pesto to taste, enough to cover all the pasta with it's green and tasty goodness, then serve on a warm plate with the pancetta, mushrooms and spinach.  Enjoy!


  1. That looks spectacularly good. I love,love, LOVE Wild Garlic and only wish it grew in Johannesburg! I will have to make a mental note to try this when I get back to the UK.

    1. One half of Team Soup comes from South Africa, so next time we are there, we will have to smuggle some wild garlic in, see if we can't get it growning in the wild! It is rather great stuff!