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October 20, 2014
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Wild things

The tender young leaves of field garlic combine with pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and olive oil to make a delicious pesto.
TRR photos by Laura Silverman


Field garlic (Allium vineale) is another invasive species you have doubtless trampled underfoot while walking on local paths and meadows. It grows in linear clumps that can look like grass from a distance, but its leaves are round and hollow. The easiest way to identify field garlic, however, is with your nose. When crushed, it exudes the unmistakable and pungent scent of garlic. Use the tender, young leaves as you would chives, perfect as a savory garnish. The bulbs—which tend to be less than an inch in diameter—are delicious grilled, pureed and pickled. I like to use the whole plant to make a pesto with a few pine nuts, some good olive oil and a little Parmesan. In fact, in combination with the knotweed sauce, this makes for an incomparable plate of pasta that just might drive you wild.

Field Garlic Pesto

Makes about 1 cup

1 handful field garlic (bulbs & tender greens), well cleaned and roots trimmed
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup olive oil
Squeeze of fresh lemon
Salt, to taste

In a food processor or blender, pulse field garlic with pine nuts and cheese until well broken down. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated and you have a thick, smooth paste. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding a bit of salt or more cheese, as needed.

Fusilli with Japanese Knotweed Sauce & Field Garlic Pesto
Makes 2 hearty portions