Every year I get so excited to pick the first of the wild garlic that grows in the woods near my house. And this year has been no exception, using my government-mandated single walk per day to head out into the woods, and pick some glorious garlic-scented leaves & their pretty white starry flowers! This Vegan Wild Garlic Pesto & Pea Risotto is the ultimate in comfort food for uncertain times.
Usually, I'd be slathering wild garlic pesto all over asparagus, but as we're not venturing out (social distancing!!) and relying on our veg box for supplies, we haven't yet had any. So frozen peas are making a seasonal substitute here ( you could also use broccoli florets or finely chopped greens).
The wild garlic pesto used to swirl through this recipe is super easy to make, however, if you can't find your own patch of wild garlic to harvest (read all about how I discovered my local patch over on this previous post), you could also make a pesto out of one or two cloves of ordinary garlic & spinach, parsley or rocket.
Again along with the theme of making do, usually I'd make my own veggie stock and have it frozen ready to use, but with all the extra time I've had, my freezer is FULL of chillis and curries so I didn't have any. Alternatively, I'd use my favourite 9 Meals from Anarchy stock However I didn't have any of that either, so instead used my other favourite stock powder, Marigold Boullion.
The point is with creating a really good risotto, is that you need some good flavouring to absorb into the rice, so use the best stock you have to hand. Keep adding it, ladle by ladle, and stirring while the hot stock absorbs. That way your risotto will come out creamy and delicious. Be sure to test the rice, no one wants to bit into a chalky mouthful. The risotto is ready when the rice has absorbed all the liquid but isn't dissolving.
The peas (or other seasonal veggies) only get stirred into the risotto at the final moment to cook through. This is when you add the pesto too, reserving some to spoon over the top as you want. To serve the Wild Garlic Pesto & Pea Risotto you can also add some toasted pine nuts or extra peas to garnish, or even some of the pretty white wild garlic flowers. Of course this is totally optional, but it's sometimes nice to serve up your food prettily, even if it is just for yourself!
Vegan Wild Garlic Pesto & Pea Risotto
For the Risotto
- 400 g risotto rice arborio or other short grain rice
- 100 ml white wine
- 1 ltr vegetable stock I used 3 tbsp stock powder dissolved in hot water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large leek
- 200 g frozen or fresh peas
- Salt & Pepper to taste
For the pesto
- 100 g Pine Nuts you can also use walnuts, cashews or even sunflower seeds
- 150 g wild garlic you could also use rocket or parsley. If you do, add 1 clove garlic
- 25 g nutritional yeast
- 4 tbsp good olive oil
- salt to taste
For the risotto
- Finely chop the leeks and gently sautee in one of your large pans in the olive oil
- Add the stock to the other sauce pan & heat gently.
- Add the risotto rice to the leeks and stir to coat in the oil
- Add the wine to the rice & stir until it absorbs
- Now, start ladelling in the stock to the rice, stirring it and letting it absorb, before adding another ladle full.
- Keep adding stock bit by bit, until the rice is completley cooked through (test a bit to be sure!)
- Add a big dollop of the pesto and the peas and stir to mix. The peas only take a minute or two to cook.
- Taste & add more pesto if you like, or add salt & pepper to taste.
To make the pesto
- In a food processor, blend all the ingredients together to form a pesto.
- Taste & add more nutritional yeast or oil as needed.
- The pesto will keep in the fridge in a clean jar for up to a week. Keep covered in a thin layer of olive oil to preserve it longer.