We are nearing one of my favourite times of the year again. Spring is most definitely starting to spring - at last.
The snowdrops and aconites are all over my garden and, more excitingly, there is wild garlic all over the river sides - one of my favourite ingredients. It is so versatile and flavoursome. I use it in so many different ways, it can totally transform a meal.
And the best thing about it? It’s free, of course.
Regular readers will know how partial I am to a bit of wild garlic,but I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on some of the best wild garlic recipes out there, so I’m going to take you through some of my favourites.
A lunchtime staple for me is the good old omelette. It’s good for you and you can make it as exciting or basic as you like. As we generally have an abundance of eggs it’s a frugal option for us too.
When wild garlic is in season I like to use it in my omelettes. A fairly standard recipe would be…
Wild Garlic Omelette.
Beat three eggs with chilli flakes, salt and pepper and a splash of water.
Fry some chopped chorizo for a few minutes until it has rendered some of it’s gorgeous, spicy, coloured fat and add some chopped mushrooms to the pan. Add a little oil, if necessary.
The mushrooms will turn a lovely red colour.
Pour the egg mixture into the pan and give it a little swirl. Add a large handful of chopped wild garlic to the pan and some cheese.
I’d go for feta or some sliced goat’s cheese, if you have any. I had some that needed to be used so I went for the goat’s cheese option today. I sprinkle a few halved cherry tomatoes over the top and pop it under the grill to melt the goat’s cheese. If I use feta or grated cheese, I’d just let it melt into the egg and flip it in half in the pan.
Serve this with a simple salad with a drizzle of vinegar and a grinding of salt.
It takes me no longer than 10 minutes from starting to make this to plating it up. It’s speedy, nutritious and flavoursome and it feels like quite a decadent lunch. I’d have no qualms serving this up to a lunch guest.
I couldn’t possibly cover wild garlic without giving you my absolute favourite recipe. It’s very rough and ready but it is so delicious that it needs a mention.
Wild Garlic Pasta.
This is so worth the initial kneading. It’s tasty and really easy. And really, you can’t get much more frugal than this so your piggy bank will thank you too.
This will serve two people and it’s easily doubled.
150g plain flour
1 tbsp oil
Handful of wild garlic
Salt and pepper
Put all the ingredients in the food processor and whizz it up. It should be a nice green dough now. You can, obviously, do this by hand in a bowl or on your work surface but I’m all about making life easy.
Pop it on an oiled surface and stretch it, turn it over and stretch it again to make it more workable. Then knead until your dough is nice and smooth and elastic.
Roll the dough out as thinly as you can (if you have a pasta machine, you’re luckier than me. (Use it), and slice it into the shape of your choice. I like long fat strands, a bit like rustic tagliatelle.
Pop it all in a pan of salted, boiling water and cook until the desired texture. About five minutes should do it.
As it’s already flavoured, I would favour a simple drizzle of olive oil and a scant sprinkling of Parmesan or Grana Padano.
I also absolutely love wild garlic pesto. I tend to use this either with unflavoured pasta and some prawns or with chicken or fish as a stuffing or a topping. It’s also really nice stirred into homemade tomato soup or on bruschetta or in canapés, twinned with pastry or tomatoes.
My recipe of choice is as rustic as the pasta recipe. I always tend to have a bag of hazelnuts and I love the flavour combination of the hazelnuts with the wild garlic so I tend to use them in the pesto over other nuts.
Approx. 50g hazelnuts
Approx. 50g Grana Padano (This is what I had in the fridge - you could use Parmesan instead)
1 clove garlic
Approx. 80g wild garlic
Approx. 100g olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper.
Toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan. Put them and all the other ingredients except the oil in a food processor. Add about half the oil.
Whizz it all up and continue to add more oil until you have the desired consistency. I prefer it a bit chunky and less oily but it’s personal preference.
It’s as easy as that.
Put it in a sterilised jar, top with a little oil to ensure it’s all covered and put it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
It lasts for absolutely ages so you might as well make a lot of it while you can.
Another good way to preserve wild garlic would be to chop it up really finely and cover with oil in a jar or freeze in ice-cube trays. If you make a jar of the oil for the fridge, I’d highly recommend making focaccia and smothering it in the oil. It’s to die for. The oil is also great drizzled over soup and bread.
As well as these, here are a few more suggestions to whet your appetite and get you all out foraging.
Wild garlic butter, just chop it finely and mix into some soft butter. Roll it up into a tube using cling film and you can slice a bit off at a time.
Melting a knob of the butter on a piece of steak will jazz it up amazingly.
Add it to salads or in stir-fries.
Cheesy, wild garlic bread (using the garlic butter).
Wild garlic and chilli hummus, this freezes nicely too.
Wild garlic pizza, you can make the dough with it or you can put it on as a topping in a similar way to rocket or spinach.
Wild garlic mashed potato, stir the garlic butter through it, it’s delicious. It’s also great on baked potatoes.
Sun-dried tomato, chorizo and wild garlic scones, I made these in one of my columns last year, shout if you’d like it.
Rub garlic butter under the skin of a chicken for the most amazing roast.
Wild garlic pancakes, finely chopped and mixed into the pancake batter.
Wild garlic soup, I make this exactly the same way as I make spinach soup, I just replace the spinach for wild garlic (obviously).
On a different note, I have been asked where I get my dried chickpeas from, I usually get them from Sainsbury’s. You should be able to find them next to the bags of dried pulses.
Check the ‘free from’ section, if you struggle. Also try searching online, you can get them from Amazon, amazingly.