Currently my weekends are spent planning what delicious meals to rustle up in the following week that not only fit my bank balance, but also allows me to fit back into my summer bikini. Browsing the local supermarkets, butchers and markets, I am greeted with an abundance of gorgeous spring produce, that gets my palate and my mind racing *read: drooling*. But one ingredient has baffled and enticed me for years and is something that is starting to grace the plates of the finest restaurants, as well as your local grocers stalls, but if you know where to find it… is completely free for the picking. I am of course talking about the bountiful, beautiful smelling and deliciously tasty: Wild Garlic.
Wild garlic (Allium ursinum), unlike it’s more commonly seen supermarket brother, these guys are not shrivelled, papery bulbs but are luscious green pointed leaves that have the pleasing and almost addictive scent as their family member the leek, onion, spring onion and chive. You can munch on the bulbs if you so wish, however it would be but a morsel as the bulbs are often too small to be much use. Also, by removing the bulb, you remove the plant – so next years crop may be on the smaller side. Still feeling slightly peckish? The beautiful and delicate white flowers are perfectly edible, sprinkle the tight buds on a salad (mid-April they are most prolific). When there are lots of flowers on the plant, this can signal that the leaves are tougher and bitter.
If you fancy something fiery, eat the leaves raw – but they actually taste the best when cooked. Quickly blanche or wilt in a drizzle of olive oil for a tasty quick snack or accompaniment. But remember that like spinach, a big carrier bag full of tasty leaves will shrivel into a small portion, so stock up!
Pair these spring leaves with their perfect spring partners – the jersey royal and some delicious asparagus alongside spring lamb or maybe one of the most celebrated and tasty meats – the roast chicken. Or perhaps you could chop it up finely and sprinkle into a tasty risotto, whizz it into a soup, or perhaps beat it through some eggs for a tasty omelette. Pesto has to be one of the quickest, yet tastiest ways to really bring to life the flavours and zings of the wild garlic, as well as being healthy and utterly nutritious! There are so many ways to spice up your meals, morning, noon and night and even better if you find a beautiful spot to forage, completely free!
This bountiful crop won’t be around all year however – Be quick as you only have until late June to don those wellies, grab a few friends and forage for wild garlic on a lovely spring woodland walk.
Countryfile have selected some of the best places to see, smell and forage for wild garlic:
- Janet’s Foss near Malham, Yorkshire Dales
- Arnos Vale, Bristol
- Lydford Gorge, Devon
- The Woods at Roseberry Topping, North Yorkshire
- Gribbin Head, Cornwall
- Rampsholme Island, Derwentwater, Cumbria