Wild garlic starts appearing in March and April, and although it grows happily around my village, you might find that the locations are as closely guarded as the best wild mushroom sites. It’s hardly suprising, as this fabulous little plant is seriously tasty and hugely versatile. It’s also very seasonal, as it’s not really farmed commercially, which makes it even more special.
Many cooks use it like spinach, sauteed in a little butter, or add handfuls of freshly washed leaves in simple salads. But if you want to keep yourself in wild garlic long after it disappears from the hedgerows, these recipes are ideal.
The first, for wild garlic oil, isn’t really a recipe, more a preparation, but we made a few jars last year and it lasted in the fridge for about three weeks. Wild garlic pesto will also keep for a week but I suspect you won’t be able to hold out that long without finishing it all.
Make sure you wash the leaves gently but thoroughly as it often growns on verges. Later in the season, it will develop pretty white flowers which are perfectly edible and look great sprinkled over salads too. And if your foraging friends are strangely unforthcoming on where to look, just grab your wellies and head out for a few walks. There’s plenty to go around, it’s just a question of finding your own patch.
WILD GARLIC OIL
Four big handfuls of wild garlic, washed and dried
400ml olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Add everything to a mini processor or hand held blender, and blitz until the garlic is finely chopped. Store in a jam jar in the fridge and use as a base for pasta sauces, stews and soups. Also good mixed with vingera for a tangy salad dressing
WILD GARLIC PESTO
3 big handfuls of wild garlic, gently washed and dried
75g finely grated parmesan
100ml olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp pine nuts.
Blitz the garlic, parmesan and oil for a few seconds in a mini processor just until its finely chopped – you don’t want it to be completely pureed. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Gently dry roast the pine nuts in a frting pan with no oil until they are goldne brown. Watch them very carefuly as they cook as they go from brown to black very fast.
When they are ready, pour them into the pesto mix whole. They will spit and crackle a little but that’s all part of the fun. I like to keep them whole for the texture, but you can also blitz the nuts in the processor if you prefer you pesto to be super-smooth.
Pour into a jar or airtight plastic container and pour a tin layer of oil over the top, which will stop the pesto from going brown before you use it. This will serve 3-4 when run through a plate of pasta or use it to dollop little bits of a mozzarella and tomato salad.