One very versatile thing to do with your plants once they're ready for harvesting is make pesto. We generally think of pesto as a way of using basil but in fact there are many other greens that can be used in the same way to make equally delicious pestos.
Other herbs such as oregano, mint, marjoram, coriander, parsley and chives can be equally delicious, as can rocket and even chard, which we wouldn't normally eat raw but which can, when blended or ground, be used in this way.
Not just for pasta, pesto goes well with potatoes or stir fry and can also be used as a spread or dip with tortilla chips.
Our pesto recipe keeps things really simple and adaptable so feel free to play around with ingredients and quantities to your heart's content.
A big bunch of herbs or green leaves eg parsely, coriander, dill, fennel, basil, rocket, chard and kale
Oil, enough to make a smooth consistency.
Garlic 1-2 cloves
parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast flakes (optional)
lemon or lime juice to taste
salt to taste
Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
As well as the food we grow, pesto can also be made from foraged leaves. Things like garlic mustard, wild garlic, dandelion leaves, herb robert, nettle leaves and linden/lime leaves all work really well, are free to gather when you're out and about and contain so many amazing health benefits.
Our friend Lucy from Wild Roots Foraging is our go to pesto expert and she's kindly offered us her recipe to share with you here. Quantities are all approximate as it's fine to use what you have when making pesto, it doesn't need to be too precise.
Makes 12 medium sized portions to serve with tagliatelle
Wild garlic - 2 bunches
Nettle leaves - 1 large bowl of stems, about 6-8 leaves worth down the stem.
Fresh oregano or other herbs - 3-4 long stems
Herb Robert - 2-3 bunches of long stems
Dandelion leaves - 4-6 (the more you use, the more bitter your pesto will be but bitters are good for the gut!)
Garlic mustard leaves - 8
Young lime/linden tree leaves - 4 large leaves
I snipped off the nettle leaves with my scissors, washed any mud off them blanched for 30 seconds in boiling water in a pan. Then drained and immediately put in an ice bath. Then drained again, this takes away the sting. Using my hands, I squashed most of the water out of them and put them in a bowl. I chopped up the wild garlic and added to the bowl. I then added the chopped leaves from all the other plants (reserving the flowers from herb Robert for decoration). Then I added 1 handful of pine nuts & 1 handful of walnuts to a pan, to toast. Gently tossing to turn every few seconds, until you can smell them. Then turn off heat and add to bowl. Then I added the juice of 1 lemon and a few glugs of organic olive oil and whizzed it all up using a hand blender. If consistency is too thick. You can add more lemon juice and/olive oil until it’s right. And then put in a jar and store in the fridge. You can store up to a week or freeze for up to 6 months.