Gather from sunny glades and beneath hedgerows, wild garlic is easily recognised by the pungent aroma that will greet you long before you see it flourishing in chalky woodlands. Available to gather with permission from the landowner, from early March until the last flowers fade as spring gives way to the warmer summer months.
After foraging, wash well in cold water, pat dry and wrap in a clean tea towel to store in the fridge, if you are not planning to use it straight away. It will keep like this for a couple of days in the salad box. But beware it may taint other food stored in the same compartment!
Ideally use straight away or preserve by making a flavoured butter for the freezer or an infused oil. Wild garlic wilts quickly in a pan with a little butter, just like spinach. The young leaves can be eaten raw and it will also partner well with other spring greens such as nettle tops and sorrel, to add a vibrant garlic note to your dish.
- Roughly chop and cream together with softened butter, a generous grating of lemon zest, black pepper and a pinch of sea salt to make wild garlic bread, add a generous knob to griddled steak, fish and roasted vegetables. Or carefully loosen the skin of a free range bird and smear the underside liberally with flavoured butter before roasting.
- Blitz with ricotta, pine nuts and spinach to fill homemade pasta or stuff savoury pancakes.
- Tear the leaves by hand then grind in a pestle and mortar with grated Gouda and olive oil, season to taste and drizzle Wild Garlic pistou over a generous dish of pasta, fish soup or a salad or quinoa, pulses or rice.
- Partner with spinach, eggs and parmesan for a savoury roulade, rolled with cream cheese and chopped walnuts.
- Later in the season, harvest the flowers to garnish salads or pinch out the petals to decorate savoury nibbles or parmesan shortbread, slow roasted tomato and your favourite soft cheese.
- Add a little chopped leaf to pastry dough for a seasonal quiche or tart. Alternatively simply add a few torn leaves to the filling before adding cream and eggs.