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Memory Dish - Halloumi with Wild Garlic Pesto

Thursday 24 April 2014

There's nothing like the feeling of foraging for your lunch. For a natural born cheapskate like me, there's a real thrill that comes from picking something from the side of the road, scooting home with it and knocking it into something delicious. It appeals to my caveman side too - it doesn't come wrapped in plastic, and I can pretend I'm a hunter/gatherer. 

What's the object of my foraging? Wild garlic. It's pungent, fleeting and looks suspiciously like thick grass. But once your eye can find a patch, you'll see it everywhere. It seems to like woodlands, roadsides and spots that are both sunny and sheltered. It's not around for too long... I'd estimate around a month at the start of Spring. I have a feeling it's on its way out now, so run out this weekend and grab away (don't be greedy though - don't dig it up, and only take what you need)

You can find it in huge quantities in some places - it grows like a woodland carpet in Doorly Rock in Sligo.You can read more about what it looks like and where to find it on Wild and Slow.

I like to keep things simple with a wild garlic pesto. It keeps for an age in the fridge, and tastes good on almost anything. Especially in my combination for this recipe, where it adds a hefty kick to halloumi.

Halloumi with Wild Garlic Pesto

A huge handful of wild garlic
Up to 100ml olive or rapeseed oil
50g grated parmesan or pecorino
Slice of good crusty bread

1. Make sure you've thoroughly washed your leaves, particularly if you've picked yours at a roadside.

2. Throw them into a blender, along with 50ml of oil and the cheese. Wild Garlic leaves take a while to break down, so you can chop them first if you like. You can also make the pesto traditionally in a pestle and mortar, but the leaves aren't as malleable as basil ones. I chose not to add salt, because halloumi is a salty enough cheese. When you have a thick paste, gradually add more oil until you get the consistency you desire.

3. Toast up a slice of a sturdy country loaf, then drown it in your bright green pesto.

4. While the bread is toasting, slice your halloumi into medium thick slices and dry fry, either on a griddler or frying pan. Don't be worried about them sticking - as soon as the edges crisp up, they leave the base of the pan.

5. When the halloumi is done, squeeze a bit of lemon over all of the slices, then put on top of your pesto soaked bread.

And you're done! I'd hazard a guess at saying this pesto keeps for at least 3 days safely in the fridge (but mine hangs around for longer)

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