Wild Garlic (“leurda”) Pesto

This is a sublime pesto all vibrant, pungent and aromatic. It marries gloriously with “Urda gnocchi” and equally is delicious slathered on rye & seed crackers. Its  excellent as a pasta sauce – add chopped green beans or chunks of pre-roasted eggplant for fabulously tasty vegetarian main courses and a personal fave…use as a sauce for grilled halloumi. As the first green wild garlic shoots appear in the woods in Spring, grab them and make something to wipe away dark winter memories.




50-100g fresh wild garlic (including stalks)

50g parsley (counters the effects of the garlic and adds yet more chlorophyll)

40g walnuts or almonds

25g parmesan – cubed (optional – not a disaster if you do not add parmesan)

2 garlic cloves (excessive but good)

85ml of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The zest of 1 lemon 9I think the lemon is quite important to the taste – try not to omit)

Salt and pepper

Equipment: a blender, food processor or stick blender

 How To 

  • Put all the ingredients except the olive oil into your blender
  • Whiz together and with the motor still running, pour the oil in until the pesto thickens. You may need to press down on the leaves to make sure they are processed.
  • Store in a clean jar in the fridge covered with a layer of oil to prevent it drying out and oxidizing.




“Urda” Gnocchi with wild garlic pesto


A long time ago I tried to make gnocchi. The plot involved an Italian boyfriend, sleep deprivation and a fabulous walnut sauce. The plot, alas, got lost: The gnocchi dissolved into something akin to prisoner of war camp potato soup or being more charitable: wallpaper paste. The fabulous sauce dried up and was never used. The boyfriend sneered. I sulked.

Fast forward a number of years, a desire to vanquish the gnocchi demon and a sneaking suspicion that some little dumplings made with “Urda” (a Romanian ricotta like cheese made from whey and very high in protein) and sexed up with a fabulous pesto would work. And work it does. 

Gnocchi work well with all manner of sauces but they seem particularly delicious with a more piquant sauce…this garlicky, lemony, almondy sauce does the trick.

These gnocchi are fast, they freeze (use direct from the freezer) and they work with many sauces. Give them a go and you will have a wonderful earthy comfort food dish mastered perhaps a bit faster than I managed.


Cassata “Romaneasca”

my new easter favourite dessert

My new dessert love – move over trifle.

One of the best things about Sicily (and there are many ) is its over the top uber sweet desserts courtesy of its Arab rulers. Think candied citrus peel and fruits, cannoli, torrone  and a deep obsession with modelling things out of “martorana” the local almond paste.


Marzipan “fruit”


Marzipan “red mullet”. 

 I think well leave it there – you get the idea.  Credits to  www.siciliangodmother.com   an absorbing read

And so I turned to one of my favourite baking booksfor the real deal on “cassata siciliana”