Wild garlic grows wild in woodland areas – best harvested in April and May before the flowers are fully out, but still good then. Easily identifiable by their strong garlic scent! The leaves are good in soups, stews, sauces, anywhere you want a garlic flavour. The flowers are also good to add to cooking or fry into fritters.
For the pesto: gather a couple of bunches of wild garlic leaves, wash, place in blender with small bag of nuts or seeds such as pinenuts, brazils, cashews, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, gradually adding enough olive oil to blend smoothly as you go. Once blended, mix into pasta. Pictured served with salad and some sesame seeds stirred in.
variants: you can use traditional basil or other herbs instead of or as well as wild garlic adding lemon juice lessens the amount of oil needed other nice inclusions are nettles (yes really) and black pepper pesto is also nice mixed into boiled potatoes, in sandwiches, or diluted with vinegar/lemon juice and made into a salad dressing.
Don’t worry – they don’t sting when cooked! Nettles are very nutrient rich and of course – free! Don’t gather them beside a busy road where they will have been contaminated by traffic fumes. If you keep cutting them from springtime you get a regular supply of fresh leaves, though they can get a bit insect infested during the summer! Below are two recipes for soup:
Version 1 – a “cream of” style soup:
2 tablespoons of vegetable margarine or oil
2 tablespoons of white flour
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Freshly picked and washed young nettles (several good handfuls – picked with gloves and caution!)
2 cups soya milk (tesco value is cheap and organic too)
1 cup water or stock
salt and pepper to taste
Fry the onion and garlic in the oil or marg. for a few minutes then stir in the nettles (no need to chop or remove stalks) until they soften. Stir in the flour and gradually add the soya milk and water or stock, stirring all the time. Add seasonings and liquidise. Delicious…
Version 2 – a versatile recipe using potato to thicken, ingredient quantities are totally adjustable:
Do an onion and 5 garlic cloves in some oil, add half head of celery, 2 potatoes, cover with water, bring to boil and simmer til soft then add bowl of gathered nettles, some chives and parsley (optional – feel free to experiment with other herbs), stock cube, salt for a few minutes and blend.