During lockdown when food delivery slots were few and far between and ingredients hard to come by, I discovered the joy of wandering in to the garden, grabbing a few bits of green and blitzing them up in to a pesto for the family to enjoy. It’s truly incredible how many edible (and sometimes very tasty) tit bits you can find in the average garden – things that we would see as weeds, pull up and fill the compost bin with.
Spring is a good time to start foraging, especially for nettles when the leaves are vibrant green, making sure to pick the smaller leaves as they tend to have more flavour and nutrients. Cleavers, aka the ‘sticky willy’ of childhood playground tomfoolery, are rich in vitamin C and have been used for centuries in cooking and as a cleansing herb. You can easily make this vegan by swapping out the cheese for a larger quantity of nuts and a little more salt. You can even swap out the nuts (as they are so expensive these days) for toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
Read more about how to garden forage from Beth.
How to make nettle and cleaver pesto
- Nettle leaves 3 cups
- Cleaver leaves 1 cup
- Cashew nuts 50g, lightly toasted in a frying pan
- Lemon, juiced 1
- Pecorino 50g, finely grated
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Honey (optional) ½ tsp
Beth Al Rikabi is a 'free-range chef' who creates seasonal, foraged vegetarian food for retreats and supper clubs. beththefreerangechef.com