Sunshine and showers

Well it had to happen, didn’t it? After banging on last week about how spring had arrived, it proceeded to pour down for most of the week. Ah well, it was to be expected in rainy old England. However the sunshine did manage to poke its head through the clouds for a little while today, so I took the opportunity to wander out into the garden and hunt down any sign that better, warmer weather is on its way – after all, British Summer Time has officially begun and there needs to be something to make up for one hour’s lost sleep!

Last week, along with purple sprouting broccoli, I also received a bag of freshly picked wild garlic in with my Riverford delivery, which was a nice surprise. I have never cooked or even seen wild garlic before, so this was yet another journey into the unknown.

Wild garlic grows in woodland, near or among bluebells, smells of garlic (surprise, surprise), and has long pointed leaves and delicate white flowers. The flowers only blossom towards the end of the season, and are said to have a stronger flavour than the leaves, and are edible. Although commonly found in woodland, wild garlic can also be cultivated in gardens, but I have been told that once it is established, it is very hard to get rid of.

I’ve been thinking all week about what my inaugural wild garlic dish should be, and decided on a risotto, one of my favourite meals to cook. (I promise not all the dishes I feature on this blog will be of the Italian variety!)

I love the freedom that you have with a risotto – you can pretty much add any flavour combination you like. My favourite risottos are butternut squash, Gorgonzola and sage, and spinach, pancetta and Parmesan, but these are not quite in fitting with the seasonal theme, so they will have to wait for another day.

I decided to pair the wild garlic with a strong goat’s cheese; the selection of goat’s cheeses in the supermarket wasn’t amazing, but I found a mature goat’s cheese from Cornish Country Larder which was strong enough to do the trick. I find most hard goat’s cheeses readily available are quite bland, and I didn’t want it to be overwhelmed by the wild garlic.

Wild garlic has quite a strong garlic flavour (but still milder than bulbs), and is also reminiscent of the green parts of spring onions, and this complemented the strong, tangy goat’s cheese. The flavours worked really well together, and I would definitely make it again.
The flavours also work very well in an omelette with (not-so-seasonal) tomatoes. However, omelettes are B.’s department and he cooked them for our dinner – rather embarrassingly, I cannot make a decent one; they always end in disaster!
All in all, the risotto was a delicious, warming dish with a fresh flavour – just right for a sleep-deprived Sunday full of sunshine and showers.

Wild garlic and goat’s cheese risotto
Serves 3-4
Few glugs of olive oil
Knob of butter
1 large onion, diced
1 garlic clove, sliced
300g risotto rice (I used Arborio)
Glass of white wine (optional)
1 litre of vegetable stock, hot (I used Swiss Marigold Bouillon)
2 large handfuls of wild garlic leaves, roughly chopped
150g strong hard goat’s cheese

1. Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil and butter over a low heat, making sure it doesn’t colour.
2. Add the risotto rice, stirring well to coat in the butter, then pour in the wine, if using. Cook for a few minutes to fry off the alcohol.
3. Add enough stock to just cover the rice, stirring continuously. Add more stock as it is absorbed for about 10 minutes (you should still have some stock left at this point).
4. Stir in the wild garlic, cook for a minute or so, then resume adding the stock, stirring continuously. Continue to add the stock until the rice is cooked, but still al dente. (I found I needed an extra 300ml of water).
5. Crumble in the goat’s cheese and heat until melted. Serve immediately, topped with a little more crumbled goat’s cheese.

38 Responses to “Sunshine and showers”

  1. 1 noblenourishment March 30, 2010 at 11:15 am

    This looks very nice! I've never seen wild garlic either. The combination with the strong goats cheese sounds sublime; thank you for sharing it! 🙂

  2. 2 Felicity March 30, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Funny; I had some wild garlic brought over from the Isle of Man this weekend. I wrapped some fish in it, and steamed it, but it's also very good chopped into salads, scrambled eggs etc. Need to find a good place to forage it in London – I love the idea of it in this risotto. I did find a lovely, tangy hard goat cheese recently, but can't remember the name; it was quite widely available. The Delamere Dairy one's pretty good as well.

  3. 3 elra March 30, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    I don't think I've ever seen wild garlic before, maybe I just don't know how they look like. sounds really delicious to cook with.Cheers,elra

  4. 4 Mariel March 30, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    The blog is looking good! Love your tales of England, too. And it looks like you've really listened to Mr. Oliver as I have – "make your risotto's OOOZY!!!". Looks delicious!

  5. 5 Wendy March 31, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    What a lovely post! I love cooking with wild garlic… we have so much of it growing in the garden that it is one way of keeping it down.

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