Archive for the 'wild garlic' Category

Goodbye winter, hello spring

Spring is finally here, and I’m back blogging. I don’t deal very well with winter, so decided to take a break from this little corner of the web; I wasn’t feeling very inspired and B. ended up cooking for most of the season. But now I am back and full of ideas – and, most importantly, feeling excited about food again.

When produce that has been absent for so many months comes back into season, it really does feel like I’m welcoming back old friends. I was so happy to get hold of some purple sprouting broccoli (finally!) and wild garlic this week – two signs that spring has finally sprung.

I had great plans to experiment with PSB this year, but because the season is so short, when it came down to it I had to have purple sprouting broccoli with cream (courtesy of Nigel Slater). Possibly my favourite dish ever, I have now had it three times in two weeks!

As well as having a fantastic mild garlic aroma, ramsons (as wild garlic is also known) adds great colour and vibrancy to many dishes, including soups, omelettes and salads.

After last year’s risotto, I decided to try something new with my wild garlic, even if it was still on the Italian theme. Pesto is so simple and seems to be a popular way to use up wild garlic, so I decided to give it a go myself and branch out from the classic basil variety I usually knock up.

I warn you now, this stuff is potent – you and your house will smell of garlic but it is totally worth it. I added some basil leaves to temper the flavour, and used a grassy tasting good-quality olive oil.

The resulting pesto was, as you would expect, very garlicky, and had quite a kick to it. I stirred it into gnocchi and these little potato dumplings were the perfect partner, adding substance while allowing the wild garlic flavours to sing. I found this pesto to be a fantastic alternative to basil, plus I didn’t get the usual indigestion I have following a particularly garlicky meal – bonus!

There was enough pesto leftover to turn into a fish stuffing the following day. To bulk it out I added a bunch of fresh parsley and coriander, capers and a couple of anchovy fillets to turn it into a pesto/salsa verde filling for mackerel. The flavours were a perfect foil for the oily fish; it was a fantastic spring lunch served with potato salad and fresh bread rolls.

All in all, this is a fantastic, simple sauce that heralds the arrival of a new season. Goodbye winter, hello spring!

Wild garlic pesto
90g wild garlic leaves, washed and roughly chopped
2 big handfuls of basil leaves
20g pine nuts, toasted
65g Parmesan, grated
Extra-virgin olive oil

1. Pound the wild garlic leaves and basil in a pestle and mortar (or in a food processor). Add the pine nuts, Parmesan and continue to pound/process.
2. Pour in enough olive oil to make a fairly loose consistency but not completely runny and season with sea salt and black pepper.

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.