Happy Thursday, beautiful people!
I’m excited to share with you a recipe for a delicious pesto.
While I try my best to give you helpful nutrition info with relevant, easy recipes, sometimes I want to share something a little more “out there” with you. And by “out there” I mean wild leeks. Their season is short, they’re not found at grocery stores, but they’re wild, extremely good for you, impressive at dinner parties and super delicious. If you’re interested in these things, keep reading.
Spring and wild leeks
Spring, to me, is always made more real by the introduction of wild leeks (also known as ramps). Wild leeks are often the first greens to push up through the forest floor each spring.
I was in NYC this past weekend, and was happy to see wild leek madness as they were being sold at nearly every stand at the Union Square farmers’ market. And again at Eataly, where they were the seasonal topping on delicious looking crostini. Then again yesterday at the just-back-in-action farmers’ market in my fav Toronto park, Trinity Bellwoods. Ah, spring!
Young and wild and free
Before I tell you how wild leeks taste, I want to talk to you about their wildness. I had a herbal medicine teacher who is also a vegetable farmer. While she sells most of her produce at small farmers’ markets, you know what she and her family eat? The “weeds”, because they grow in their natural habitat. Think about that for a second.
This is one of the reasons why we’re seeing more and more foraged food at restaurants; some of my very favourite restaurants (Ursa, Keriwa Café) have their own foragers that bring wild bounty by the basket each week.
*Note: foraging is serious business, and is best left to the pros. For the rest of us, farmers’ markets will provide us with lots of wild (and safe to eat) foods.
Health benefits and wild taste
So what do wild leeks taste like? Basically like a cross between leeks and garlic. They’re pungent suckers. But that pungency is so, so good for us.
Wild leeks are members of the garlic (allium) family, and contain many of the same health benefits, namely their sulfur content and unique phytonutrients that can help us detoxify, protect our hearts and ward off colds and flus.
Where to find them
If you want to try this pesto, get out there to the farmers’ market toute suite! Wild leeks have an incredibly short season and they’re only available at farmers’ markets (because they are protected in Ontario, and can’t be harvested on a large scale).
- ½ lb wild leeks (around 16)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 lemon, zested; ½ lemon, juiced
- 1 tsp Celtic sea salt
- Remove the roots from the wild leeks and submerge in a large bowl of water. Repeat with clean water until the leeks look clean.
- Chop the leeks into 1” strips.
- Add to a food processor, fitted with an ‘S’ blade (or blender) with the rest of the ingredients. Pulse until everything looks pesto-ish.
How to serve this delicious pesto
Tip: grate a little more lemon zest overtop for additional serving style
- On pasta! I love this one
- As a dip with veggies or crackers
- A sandwich spread
- A sauce for chicken, fish or beef
- With eggs
Wishing you many delicious experiments with wild leeks. xo Andrea