Saturday, 23 March 2013

eat your greens - part 2

Sometimes it seems like the marketing dept were having an off day when it comes to the naming of certain plants and animals. (Stand up comedian Tudur Owen does a brilliant riff on this subject based around the Welsh word for jellyfish - very rude and very funny)*. Today, since the weather is still absolute pants, I would like to champion the cause of the somewhat unfairly named Hairy Bittercress. Neither particularly hairy nor overwhelmingly bitter, it has a pepperiness and bite that would make it a happy sub for cultivated rocket or watercress in a salad.  From a foraging point of view it also has the added benefits of being both plentiful and easy to identify.

It's an invasive garden weed that seeds itself freely around the veg patch.  These were gathered from one of my compost heaps so I had no qualms about whipping them all out.  (It is, however, very bad foraging manners, not to mention illegal in some cases, to pull things up by their roots in the wild).

As it's not really salad weather, I decided that pesto was the order of the day. So bag in hand, I set off for the stream banks to see if the wild garlic was showing itself yet.  This is another favourite of the novice forager (like myself), as all parts of the plant have an unmistakable aroma of garlic.  It's also a perennial so it stays put - once you've found a favourite patch on a shady bank, you can go back year after year.

I favour a 'chuck it all in the food processor' approach to pesto based on the following ingredients:

some green herbage whizzed up with a clove of garlic** and a handful of nuts
(I used almonds because there were some in the cupboard)

an equal(ish) quantity by volume of grated parmesan

lemon juice, salt and pepper

olive oil to loosen to the desired (sloppy) consistency

It will keep for about a week in the fridge or you can freeze any leftovers to use another time.
The books say to leave the cheese out to freeze it, but I think it works just fine with the cheese in.

*The literal translation of one of the Welsh words for jellyfish is the 'See You Next Tuesday (?!?!) Of The Sea'

**No garlic required if you're using the wild stuff as your greens


  1. Yummo!
    I quite like its name though actually (almost porn star-ish!)

    1. I worked in a smart garden centre just outside London to help support myself when I went back to college to study horticulture. We used to sell a white stemmed ornamental bramble that gloried in the botanical name of Rubus cockburnianus.