Once spring has well and truly sprung, the countryside starts giving us back some foraging delights. Perhaps one of my favourites of this time of year is none other than wild garlic. With its many country names, ramsons, wild or bear’s garlic, buckrams, this broad-leafed plant is a hedgerow cousin to chives and can often be found in woodland or shady damp spots, popping up amongst the bluebells or lining the verges. It has an unmistakeable oniony/garlic fragrance when its leaves are crushed between fingers and makes for a wonderful hedgerow treasure from April until June.
Wash the leaves well and it can be snipped into an omelette, wilted into a risotto or blanched in boiling water for a minute or two. I like to use it simply whizzed up in a sauce or dressing – hollandaise recipes work well with it, a wild version of salsa verde perhaps or my particular favourite….
Wild garlic pesto
50g wild garlic leaves, thoroughly washed and dried carefully with a tea towel
30g parmesan or pecorino, finely grated (a hard English goat’s cheese would work too)
30g pine nuts, lightly toasted
a good glug of olive oil (roughly 75ml)
pinch of salt and pepper
Into a blender, add the parmesan, wild garlic leaves and pine nuts. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and whizz together to combine the ingredients.
Once the mixture is suitably combined, with the blender motor running, begin adding the olive oil. Depending on whether you like your pesto slightly runny or more spoonable, add a little more oil accordingly.
Store in a clean jam jar in the fridge and drizzle on to meat or fish, add to pasta or use in salad dressings. Do not keep for more than a week
As with all foraging, do make sure you know what you are picking. Wild garlic can be identified by its broad lush leaves (which give off an onion like perfume) and tall stemmed white flowers. This article from The Telegraph gives a bit more information on what to look out for when searching for wild garlic on your countryside walks and has some lovely ideas for using it too.
With enormous thanks to Margot who writes about her transformation from self confessed townie to country bumpkin. Margot left London a year ago and has since settled into country life, armed with a dog, chickens and her latest addition - the lambs. Her blog has an avid following of those considering Life After London. To follow Margot’s journey, go to www.margottriesthegoodlife.com, follow her on Facebook or tweet her @Margotgoodlife