This month has finally seen some better weather here in the Wolds, and in the garden the herbs are finally waking up and stretching themselves back towards the sun, after the long winter we have had. By the beech hedge the Jack by the Hedge has been growing inch upon inch, and every time I pop out for a walk around the garden with tea in hand it seems to have grown another centimetre or two, with the tiny white flowers now starting to make an appearance. I finally decided yesterday that it was high time to get cracking on the recipes made using this delicious herb, so here’s the first one of the season – the usual Jack by the Hedge pesto, but made slightly differently to usual!
You will need:
One large bunch of Jack by the Hedge young tops – flowering ones is fine, as long as the leaves have a good strong scent of garlic when torn.
Extra virgin olive oil or some organic seed oil
Salt to taste
250g sunflower seeds
Three garlic cloves
Pop the herbs into a food processor, giving each one a quick check over as you go for the inevitable black bugs that love the white flowers, then add a good glug of olive oil, giving the whole lot a good whizz up until the leaves are well chopped. Add a little more olive oil and the sunflower seeds and garlic, and blend until well chopped, then taste. Add half a teaspoon of salt and blend up again, then taste to make sure it is seasoned enough. Pile it into a clean glass jar and press it down, then top it with more oil to help it keep longer. Put the lid on and store it in the fridge. This pesto has a lovely bittersweet edge to it, making it perfect for oily fish like salmon, or enjoy it with creamy goats cheese on a tart. Should keep several weeks in the fridge!