NATHALIE’S BÄRLAUCH PESTO
When I moved to the farm in Switzerland from Milan she was the first friend I made as she always walks by the farm with her lady dog Chaya.
Nathalie knows a lot about plants and food and she inspires me a lot by sharing all her secrets with me. She is the perfect guide into swiss culture and traditions, in fact our first “date”, in 2013, was picking up bärlauch: she had made me try her delicious pesto made with it and I was so impressed that I asked her to take me out with her. Bärlauch, from the word bär (bear), and its Latin name Allium orsinum refer to the brown bear’s taste for the bulbs and its habit of digging up the ground to get at them. It is called Wild Garlic in English and it is the first vegetable of the year you can pick, for me it’s the one that tells you the Winter is “almost” over, like a fair goodbye.
The bärlauch leaves are also used as fodder. Cows that have fed on ramsons give milk that tastes slightly of garlic, and butter made from this milk used to be very popular in 19th-century Switzerland.
We didn’t have to walk too far: there is a place on a hill in the forest behind the farm, where it grows every year. It is a beautiful scenario: the baby green new leaves cover the ground and form a thick carpet mixed with the red brownish leaves abandoned by the trees during the winter.
These delicate baby leaves are actually surprisingly strong: like swords that cut their way through shields, it is not uncommon to see them grown through the harsh brownish leaves. We always stop to contemplate that, me and Nathalie.
Nathalie with her son Leon and Chaya, live in a beautiful big house: it’s a typical half-timbered swiss house with the exposed wooden beams on the exterior of the building and many grid windows lined up on each floor. The interior of her house is bright and colourful with a lot of art pieces, objects and fabrics from South Africa because she lived there, and a delightful collection of rare delicate happy plants because she has a real green thumb.
For this recipe she wrote down the proportions for me, although she always makes almost everything by eye… In the kitchen she is very well organized, she doesn’t go too fast but she is very efficient with minimum effort, a real quality in the kitchen that reminds me to my grandmother Armida.
After the warming Sunday lunch Nathalie left us with a jar of bärlauch pesto, now she only has to prepare just few more Kilos of it, for our village 900th anniversary festival!
- 100g Bärlauch (Wild Garlic)
- 40g Sundried Tomatoes
- 60g Hazelnuts (peeled)
- 1/4 Tblspoon Salt
- 150cc Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Clean surface areas and get your ingredients nice and ready.
- Wash bärlauch leaves under running water, dry a bit and then chop them.
- Chop (by hand or with a blender) hazelnuts.
- Chop sundried tomatoes.
- Add salt and oil and mix.
- If using to dress a pasta dish add a bit of cooking water and grated parmesan cheese to taste.
- If you want to preserve it in a jar cover the pesto with a layer of oil and close.
- When picking up the bärlauch cut the bottom of the leaves with your nail, don't rip them otherwise they will get rotten quicker.
- Prepare bärlauch pesto on the same day you collect it.
- To peel hazelnuts roast them in the oven first and then rub them with a cloth.
- There is a plant that looks like bärlauch but it is poisoning, ask the villagers where to find the good one before picking.
- 100gr Bärlauch
- 40 getrocknete Tomaten
- 60gr geröstete und geschälte Haselnüsse
- 1/4TL Salz
- 150ml Olivenöl extra vergine
- Arbeitsfläche reinigen und Zutaten bereitstellen.
- Bärlauch gut waschen, trocknen und möglichst fein schneiden.
- Haselnüsse hacken.
- Getrocknete Tomaten in feine Würfel schneiden.
- Alles mit Salz und Öl mischen.
- Wenn Sie das Pesto als Pastasauce brauchen, fügen Sie etwas geriebenen Käse und Kochwasser der Pasta bei.
- Wenn SIe es in einem Glas aufbewahren möchten, das Pesto immer mit Olivenöl bedecken.
- Wenn Sie Bärlauch selber pflücken, knipsen Sie ihn mit den Fingern am Stil ab - so bleiben die Blätter ganz, und die Wurzeln im Boden.
- Den Bärlauch sofort verarbeiten, da die Blätter schnell welken.
- Sie können die gerösteten Haselnüsse entweder in einem Tuch reiben oder in einem Sieb hin und her bewegen, um die Schale zu lösen.
- Es gibt giftige Pflanzen, die mit Bärlauch verwechselt werden können. Pflücken Sie den Bärlauch nur dort, wo diese Pflanzen nicht wachsen, oder lassen Sie sich die Unterschiede von einem Kenner zeigen.