Wild Garlic & Nettle Pesto

Spring has been trying hard on the Isle and somewhere between flurries of sleet and sudden flooding there's been a few glorious hours of beautiful light most days. It's creeping further into the evenings and breaking a little earlier each morning too. Recently there's been a few afternoons where I've stood basking it in just for the joy of feeling the light making itself at home in our beautiful surroundings. 

Spring Approaching on the Isle of Purbeck
Sheep on the Isle golden light
Sheep on the Isle of Purbeck golden light 1

We popped out for a hike the other weekend with friends. Our children were bundled happily in slings on our backs and we tugged hats low over ears as the wind blasting in from the sea reminded us we've some way to go till Spring warmth yet. While cutting back through the woods on our way home though we spotted a sure sign of the new season tip toeing in: Wild Garlic. There's no mistaking the pungent aroma and my friend and I both dived onto the patch happily, taking enough for our needs while leaving the rest for other foragers to find. (For more information on responsible foraging, please see this great starter via Farm Stay UK)

Wild garlic growing on the Isle of Purbeck

Wild garlic growing on the Isle of Purbeck

The weather is still a little too cold to truly be Spring and with a weather forecast predicting more snow flurries I declared we needed to make the best use of our bounty. I grabbed some gardening gloves and gathered some of the newest shoots bursting up from the Nettles too. Satisfied with our first meal plucked straight from the earth, we headed for home and rich Chai teas or hot milks depending on the age bracket of forager. 

Nettle is a wonderful plant to cook with. Picking the young leaves from the top adds a sort of sweetness to their taste that elevates it above the earthy green taste of Spinach. My daughter is a pesto (and pasta) addict so I decided to create a wild pesto that would keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge while the next cold front made us wonder if Spring is ever coming. 

Smothering wholemeal pasta with the rich dark pesto and the kitchen filling with wafts of gutsy Wild Garlic and Nettle was so rewarding. We've since slathered it on chicken and even added a spoonful to mash. The taste of either plant is not enormously strong but the aroma is incredible and hints at good things to come once it's warm enough to uncover the BBQ and bring our bounty straight to the waiting grill. 

If you would like to make some wild pesto, I can thoroughly recommend this recipe via the BBC. Due to the impromptu nature of our feast, I was low on pine nuts so here's my twist on ingredients but the method is the same:

Wild Garlic and Nettle Pesto Recipe via A Playful Day

Wild Garlic and Nettle Pesto Recipe via A Playful Day

Wild Garlic and Nettle Pesto:


150g young nettle and wild garlic leaves (I didn't weight, but used about half a carrier bag full)
50g Parmesan, finely grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
zest ½ lemon and a good few squeezes of juice
50g mixture of brazil and pine nuts
150ml rapeseed oil


Please remember that nettles will continue to sting even once plucked so gloves are advisable. Also, as with all foraged goods, a good thorough clean is essential. 

1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, then drop in the nettles and cook for 2 mins. Drain and run under cold water, then squeeze out as much water as possible and roughly chop them.

2. Put the nettles and raw wild garlic into a food processor, along with the Parmesan, garlic, lemon zest and nuts. Blitz to a rough paste.

3. Season, and with the motor running slowly, add almost all the oil. Taste, season and add a few good squeezes of lemon juice. Transfer the pesto to a clean jar and top with the remaining oil.

This keeps for about two weeks in the refrigerator if sealed well. 

Spring.... Growth.... Change

When you're a parent, I swear that the thing that makes you feel the most 'different' from your friends who don't have children is definitely weekends. While everyone else slows down or fires up, your pace continues. Snacks, nappy changes, naps (maybe), meals, play and all the usual things that structure your day don't just stop. Yet your head is still in this place where you think of weekends as 'time off to do what I want'. 

It's taken some time to navigate this path and find a balance but the last few weekends have reassured me that we've turned some kind of symbolic point in the Playful Tot's life and things have just gotten a little bit easier. Trips out are easier even if they do seem to require an alarming amount of paraphernalia. 


I was watching the Tot pootle around the walled gardens on one of our local parks,knitting and snapping away with my camera when suddenly I realised I'd found a way towards more recognisable weekends. What makes me happy? Playing with my camera, knitting and being outside. I looked for other signs that life is settling into a slightly less frantic pace and ah yes, blog reading, pouring through recipe books and having time to lace up my high tops seem to be back in the mix. When did that happen?

You realise that life changes when you have a child but how it changes seems like a mystery until you're in the thick of it. Marrying up your needs, your babies needs and any kind of social life seems near impossible for months. Then, just as suddenly, it's Spring and you're able to be outside more and the little one is toddling so doesn't need to be constantly held. She's got her own things to do now so activities centre around just getting out the house and looking for.... diggers. Our current obsession is diggers. She's also getting used to the idea that sometimes Mummy sits somewhere with a knitting bag or a book and she can bomb about with the Giant and it'll be ok because I'll be right there when she gets back. Sometimes we tag and I go exploring with her while the Giant reads and thinks about important things. 

So what did I choose to work on during this Spring morning? My Hickory Sweater by Cecily Glowik Macdonald. It's clipping along nicely on a slow and steady simmer. I like the pattern writing as it's clear and easy to follow which I need when I get so little knitting time. I've managed to pick this up each time with minimal fuss and the Debbie Bliss CashMerino is snuggly to work with. I doubt I'll have this done any time soon but it feels ok.

Sometimes it's ok to wait for things to get really good. You know?


psssst..... Have you entered the Botanical Knits 2 Giveaway yet? There's still time!