Those of you getting out and about in the country or near a wood or stream may have noticed the recent appearance of beautiful, white flowers that look just like white bluebells, but have a distinct garlicy whiff about them. This is wild garlic – healthy, free and tasty. For pictures and more information have a look on the wild and slow website here http://wildandslow.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/THE-WILD-GARLIC.pdf
Jut pick the leaves and stems, including the flowers. Like all wild food, it’s important to just take what you need and leave the rest for others and for next year. A word or warning, don’t confuse wild garlic for lily of the valley, which looks a little similar, but is not edible.
To be sure of what you are picking, rub a leaf between your fingers and smell. You should be clearly able to smell garlic. If not, don’t pick it.
I like to blend the leaves and stems with some good Irish butter and black peppercorns to make wild garlic butter. This can be stored in the fridge for a week or so and in the freezer for a couple of months. It’s great dotted on fish before baking and also great for stirfrying some torn up kale and chickpeas for a speedy dinner.
The flowers make a beautiful and tasty addition to salads and taste a little like chive flowers.
One of my favourite ways to use wild garlic is to make pesto from the leaves and stems. This tastes great tossed through wholegrain pasta, cooked quinoa or ‘courgetti’ (courgette noodles). It’s also great as a spread on wholegrain pitta or used to top cod or other white fish. Best of all, it only takes a few minutes to make. Take 3 large handfuls of fresh wild garlic, wash VERY well, roughly chop and blend in a food processor with a cup of walnuts or cashew nuts and a cup of grated parmesan cheese. Blend for a minute, scrape down the processor, then add
1/2 – 1 cup extra virgin olive oil and continue to blend until a smooth paste is formed. Store in sterilised jars and cover the pesto with a layer of olive oil to keep fresh.
We would love to hear your ideas for using wild garlic too, so please share!