Wild garlic: what to do with nature's most delicious (and free) ingredient.
The season for wild garlic leaves is short – they're gone by June.
This time of year, early March, you will find the wild garlic poking up in low-lying places by streams and protected woods.
Make sure you pick away from dogs and roads and don’t trespass: the wild garlic might be free, but the landowner may not appreciate your picking!
I take a carrier bag with me, fill it up and it will last perfectly in the fridge for a week.
Wild garlic leaves are best when very tender, so pick when the garlic is just coming up.
Choose small tender leaves - the moment the garlic begins to flower, the leaves become too strong and brash in flavour.
But the flowers do make a pretty addition to spring salads.
Use wild garlic instead of spinach leaves, mix and match.
It goes well with watercress.
Add it to your favourite pasta sauces, or use wild garlic for a tangy pesto that makes a versatile addition dip, pasta sauce or filling for your favourite foods - especially mushrooms.
Wash well before cooking with foraged plants.
Pan-baked eggs with wild garlic and tomatoes.
Inspired by Turkish egg recipes, this makes a good brunch.
2 eggs – duck eggs would be especially good
A double handful of young garlic leaves, coarse stems removed
2tbsp Olive oil
6 plum tomatoes (tinned out of season)
a pinch of smoked paprika
2tbsp Greek yoghurt.
Wash and roughly chop the wild garlic and tomatoes. Heat the oil in a frying frying pan (one around 8inches/20cm across) and add the tomatoes and wild garlic with the paprika and a fat pinch of salt. Cook until the garlic is wilting and the mixture is no longer watery – it will be a squash at first, but the garlic will shrink down. Make two hollows in the mix and break an egg in each. Season with salt and pepper and cover the pan. Cook gently for about 7minutes until the eggs are set. Serve with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt and an extra trickle of olive oil.
Wild garlic salsa verde.
Pungent wild garlic makes a gorgeous salsa verde for dolloping on fish, chicken or lamb.
6 wild garlic leaves
leaves from a small bunch of basil (about 15g/ 1/2oz)
leaves from a small bunch of mint (about 15g/ 1/2oz)
2tbsp capers in vinegar, drained
4 tinned anchovies, chopped
3tbsp olive oil
1tbsp coriander seed
Chop the garlic, basil and mint into peppercorn sized pieces. Mix with the capers, olive oil and coriander seed. Season with salt and lemon juice, adding more olive oil if necessary to make a nice consistency. This will keep a day or two in the fridge.
Wild garlic pesto.
Makes 1 small jar
50g wild garlic leaves, washed
30g pinenuts, lightly toasted
30g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
80ml olive oil, plus extra to cover
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
The simplest method is to put everything except the oil in a food processor, blitz for a few seconds, then continue to whiz while slowly adding the olive oil through the funnel.
Transfer to a jar, pour sufficient olive oil on top to keep the pesto covered, close the lid and store it in the fridge.
It will keep for several weeks as the top is covered with a layer of olive oil.
Wild garlic, potato and chorizo tortilla.
Recipes by River Cottage.
1 handful of wild garlic
100g of good quality
chorizo sausage sliced
into small chunks
200g cooked potatoes
cut into cubes
4 large organic eggs
1 large onion, peeled
and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
A small handful of fennel leaf tops (optional)
A dash of olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a heavy-based non-stick frying pan over a medium heat.
Add a dash of olive oil and the butter.
When the butter is foaming, add the onions and chorizo.
Cook while tossing regularly for six to eight minutes or until the onions are soft and the chorizo has given up some of its well-flavoured fat.
Add the potatoes and toss them about the pan.
Cook for further four or five minutes.
Now slice the garlic leaves thinly and scatter into the pan.
Turn everything together.
Beat the eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Pour the eggs over the chorizo and potatoes; give the pan a little shake.
At this point you can either gently cook the frittata on the hob or place it in a medium-hot oven until the eggs are just set. It should take only a few minutes to cook through.
Scatter with parsley and fennel leaves and serve warm with a simply dressed green salad.
Wild Garlic Frittata
Dietary: Gluten Free
1 medium potato peeled and diced very small
1 tbsp olive oil
25g vegetarian style Parmesan, grated
1 large handful of young wild garlic leaves, chopped roughly
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a 24cm frying pan, one without a plastic handle, heat the olive oil and gently sauté the potato, with a lid on until cooked, which takes about 10 minutes.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with 2/3rds of the ricotta and parmesan, add the wild garlic and season with salt and pepper.
Add the egg mix to the potatoes and cook on a gentle heat, until almost set.
You will need to run a heatproof spatula around the frittata to stop it from sticking.
Pre-heat the grill.
Scatter the remaining ricotta and parmesan over the top of the frittata and grill until the top is golden.
Serve at once cut into wedges with roast balsamic tomatoes, and wild garlic leaves drizzled with your favourite nut or olive oil.
Flavour frittatas with what ever is in season, spring onions and peas with chervil, steamed asparagus tips with fresh mint, sweet tomatoes with basil or wild mushrooms with tarragon.
Wild garlic, courgette and mint soup.
Angela Hartnett's recipe.
(Serves four, as a starter)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion sliced
6 courgettes sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 bunch wild garlic
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
Put two tablespoons of olive oil into a large pan.
Add the onion and saute for a couple of minutes.
Before the onion loses any colour, add the courgette and the crushed garlic clove.
Season and saute for another minute or two, cover with water and bring to a simmer to soften.
When the vegetables are cooked through (10 minutes maximum), remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped wild garlic and mint – the residual heat from the soup will cook the wild garlic.
If it's too thick, add a little water to thin it out.
Blend, check seasoning, finish with a little olive oil and serve.
Cool quickly over iced water if you don't plan to eat it straight away – this keeps the lovely green colour.
Spinach, Wild Garlic and Ricotta Malfatti
The spinach and ricotta dumplings called "Malfatti" translate to "poorly made" in Italian, a reference to their large, rustic shape.
Malfatti means misshapen, so don't worry if they end up not being perfectly round. Malfatti are made of the filling for ravioli, but instead of being encased in pasta dough, they are boiled like gnocchi.
125g wild garlic leaves
20g parmesan, grated
1 ½ tbsps plain flour
20g butter, softened
pinch of nutmeg
pinch chilli flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten
Lemon Thyme Cream:
1 tsp butter
1 shallot, finely diced
zest of 1/2 lemon
75ml white wine
1 tbsp lemon juice
140ml single cream
3 sprigs thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Wash the spinach and wild garlic leaves and then place them in a large saucepan.
Over a low heat let the spinach wilt, there will be enough water in the spinach to cook it sufficiently.
Drain the spinach and then squeeze all the water out. It is essential that the spinach is as dry as possible otherwise the malfatti will fall apart.
Chop the spinach and wild garlic and combine it with the ricotta, parmesan, flour, butter, nutmeg and chilli flakes and season.
Taste for seasoning and then mix in the egg.
Leave the mix to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Make the mix into about 16 walnut sized balls.
Very lightly dust in flour, to stop them sticking together.
Bring a saucepan of water to a gentle simmer and then carefully drop the malfatti into the water about 8 at a time.
Simmer gently for 8 minutes.
Take them out with a slotted spoon and keep warm in a buttered dish, whilst you cook the others.
To make the sauce In a small saucepan heat the butter with the shallot, thyme and lemon zest and fry until the shallots soften and start to colour.
Add the white wine and lemon juice and simmer gently to reduce by half.
Stir in the cream and add salt and lots of black pepper.
To serve, pour a little of the lemon thyme cream around the malfatti, and top with fresh thyme leaves and parmesan shavings if you want. Serve at once.
Wild Garlic Recipes | Demuths:
Wild Garlic Pesto
Gluten-Free Wild Garlic and Cheese Cornbread
Wild Garlic Soup
Wild Garlic Frittata
Spinach and Wild Garlic Malfatti
Wild Garlic Risotto
Wild Garlic Focaccia [Eat Weeds]
Wild Garlic & Cheese Scones [Delicious Days]
Spelt & Wild Garlic Risotto [Mark Hix]
Wild Garlic Croquettes - A croquette is a small breadcrumbed fried food roll [Riverford]
Wild Garlic Hummus [Nami-Nami]
Wild Garlic, Nettle & Leek Hummus [Ethical Chef]
Wild Garlic, Potato, Feta & Pine Nut Quiche [Allotment2Kitchen]