Wild Garlic (Allium Ursinum) is in season at the moment, and we’re pretty excited. The ‘wild garlic in season’ window comes and goes a bit too quickly for our liking, so we want to help spread the word before the window slams shut again.
You see, few people take advantage of this fantastic, free ingredient whilst it’s around, which seems a real pity; because any wild, delicious ingredient which is free must be a good thing!
Wild garlic plants themselves grow in deciduous woodlands with moist soils, and are made up of long, triangular leaves, electric-green in colour. Whilst in season, the plants are peppered with delicate, white flowers, and give off a strong, garlicky aroma, which totally envelops you as you walk through them.
You can eat both the leaves and the flowers of the wild garlic plant. The leaves can be wilted in hot, garlic-infused olive oil, with spinach leaves and beetroot stems, and served as a vegetable. They can also be added to mixed salads, adding an alternative leaf flavour; just add a sprinkling of little wild garlic flowers if you want to create a beautiful contrast of colour and texture! These tiny white flowers look at their finest when scattered on top of hot soups, where they effortlessly open out in the heat, displaying their true beauty. It’s unbelievable how many uses you can get out of a free ingredient that most people will just trample on.
However, wild garlic is most commonly used to make beautifully potent, garlicky pesto. To make wild garlic pesto, you effectively replace the basil leaves of traditional, Italian pesto, with British wild garlic leaves. Here’s a reliable recipe you might like to try:
WILD GARLIC PESTO (1 jar)
50g Wild Garlic Leaves
25g Pine Nuts
1 Garlic Clove, peeled and crushed
175-225ml Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
35g freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and Sugar, to taste
Put the wild garlic, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil in a food processor, and mix. Put all the contents into a bowl, and fold in the parmesan. Season to taste. Store the pesto in a sterilised jar, in the fridge, and as and when you use it, pour a little olive oil over the top of the jar’s remaining pesto, to ensure it stays fresh.
Wild garlic pesto has a hundred and one uses: you can use it as a sauce for pasta or gnocci, spread it on top of a chicken or fish fillet, swirl it through soups, thin it out with olive oil and use it as a dressing, or even roast Mediterranean vegetables in it. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll realise quite how versatile it is.
So get out there and forage for some wild garlic! Or if you’re not in an area where it’s growing, then try it when you see it on a menu. All the best chefs are using it at the moment, because it is cheap (or free!), seasonal, local, and mind-blowingly delicious.