A wild herb pesto recipe packed with nutrition. Learn about the common wild green, herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) and how to incorporate it into your diet.
Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) is one of the healthiest greens you can eat. It has powerful immunity-boosting and healing properties, as it helps make oxygen more available to the cells – valuable for both disease prevention and fighting existing illness. I see it growing absolutely everywhere – growing out of the concrete in London, fighting off the sticky weed in Yorkshire’s woods. It is beautiful, abundant and free.
I decided that the best way for me to have a hope of actually consuming this herb regularly was to make it into pesto. Pesto is unspeakably delicious and can be frozen (which maintains the nutritional value) in ice cube trays and defrosted very quickly as needed.
On eating a few leaves you will discover that they taste, well, leafy.
So equal parts herb Robert and basil, livened up in the usual way with a little fresh garlic, sea salt and flavourful cheese, is recommended.
I also added some fresh lemon juice to keep the colour lovely and green, and provide some extra vitamin C.
The recipe below is included as an outline and a guide, but you can substitute pretty much any herb you want. But do consider herb Robert – it really is everywhere! It's dainty and delicately coloured, so consequently fades into the background, but once you know what it looks like it jumps out all over the place.
A chef I met this week, Frances Atkins, told me a story. She had mentioned to a colleague that many of the edible plants that grow so successfully in the UK date back to Roman times, when they were farmed – one of my absolute favourite facts.
'Who are the Romans?' he said.
'Oh, just some Italians who were here long ago' she replied.
Wild herb pesto
- 30 g/huge handful herb robert
- 30 g/huge handful basil leaves
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 40 g Parmesan Pecorino or similar, finely grated
- 1/2 lemon juice only
- sea salt to taste
- plenty of freshly ground black pepper
- Blend the herb robert, basil and garlic with enough olive oil to make a loose purée. Mix in the cheese and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. You should salt the pesto until it tastes delicious - it is impossible to give exact quantities, as everyone tastes differently, but the salt is essential for bringing out and uniting all the other flavours.