Every year my friends and I make our annual voyage to the Reading Beer and Cider Festival. It’s one of the highlights of the year, and as we get older and less fun, the one time of year for many of us to all come together and drink our weight in cider. It’s not just booze though, one of my best food memories was made at the festival. Actually, there are a few but I’ll talk about the others another day.
All the food stalls have copious samples, so obviously we go around and try everything. When I first tasted the wild garlic pesto I knew I needed to have it all. Sadly I can’t remember the name of the company that was selling it. Hopefully they’ll be there again this year and I can rave about it again in a few weeks’ time.
I remember my mason jar full of the delicious, super garlicky pesto and the bread sticks that came with it. I lazed on the picnic blanket trying to scoop up as much as I could onto each breadstick, chomping away as I went. Some of it did make it home, I promise!
Before then I didn’t know a lot about wild garlic. I assumed it was like usual garlic (domesticated garlic?!) and came in bulb form. After an unrelated foray in foraging, I now know that wild garlic is actually leaves. There are flowers too, but the leaves are apparently the best and most useful part.
Lucky for me, in our Riverford veg box this week we got a whole bag of wild garlic, which instantly reminded me of my delicious garlic pesto experience of last year. Also I am now SUPER excited about the beer festival. I’ve made normal pesto before, and figured that wild garlic pesto must be rather similar.
This is my take on garlic pesto, served with veggie pasta and a breaded ficken fillet. As I’m trying to eat well, this meal is made with healthier whole wheat pasta and spray oil for frying. Feel free to throw in whatever veggies you have laying around to go with the pasta. I’ve used tomatoes, onions, peppers and olives, but courgettes and aubergines would also work particularly well.
Usually I like to make my meals vegan, however at the time of writing Quorn fillets contain egg whites, so this meal isn’t vegan. It would be very easy to make vegan though just by substituting the Quorn for something else. Let me know in the comments if you know of any delicious vegan fillets and I’ll definitely them next time.
- 100g baby spinach
- 30g wild garlic
- 1 tbsp groundnut oil
- 50g cashew nuts
- 2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 slice of bread, I like to use seeded brown bread but any will work
- 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
- 1 tsp paprika
- 4 Quorn fillets or vegan alternative
- Vegan mayonnaise (I used Tesco free from mayo-maize)
- 300g dry whole wheat pasta
- Spray oil
- 1 red onion sliced into chunks
- Large handful cherry tomatoes
- 100g roasted peppers
- Handful of olives (15 - 20 is good) sliced into many little O shapes
- 1. Preheat the oven to 200°c/425°F/gas mark 7.
- 2. Fill a large pan with water and bring to the boil. Add the pasta and boil until almost soft.
- 3. Meanwhile, put the slice of bread, the herbs and the paprika in a food processor and blitz briefly into breadcrumbs. Tip the breadcrumbs out into a wide dish or deep plate.
- 4. Coat each of the fillets in a thin layer of mayo-maize all over, then smother in the breadcrumbs before placing them on a baking tray.
- 5. Spray each breaded fillet with oil then bake for 20 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden.
- 6. While the fillets are cooking make the pesto, and remember to keep an eye on the pasta. Put the spinach, wild garlic, groundnut oil, cashew nuts, and nutritional yeast in a food processor and blitz until mostly smooth. Add the water as necessary to loosen up the mixture.
- 7. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and set aside. You can rinse out and use the same pan for the next part. Generously spray the pan with oil and place over a medium heat. Add the tomatoes, onions and olives and fry until soft, then add the roasted peppers.
- 8. When the veg is soft, tip the cooked pasta into the pan and mix with the veg. Pour the pesto over and heat for a few minutes until piping hot. The longer you heat it for, the less garlicky the pesto will taste.
- 9. Serve the pasta with the fillets sliced on top. Take a photo for Instagram if you like 😉
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