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Growth: Wild Growth
I geek out over books on edible plants and recipes for cooking with them and I have secret designs on becoming a forager for wild food Fearnley-Whittingstall style… but my lack of botanical knowledge always leaves me in fear of mistaking poisonous for edible and accidentally bumping off an unsuspecting family member.
However, there is one plant that even I can pick without fear of involuntary manslaughter and it’s everywhere right now. Wild garlic. If you’ve walked through a forest or along a shady path recently and caught a whiff of something vaguely Italian kitchen-ish, then you have probably walked past some. I even have some growing in my garden, which is about the only edible thing in it (there are some benefits to a complete lack of gardening resolve).
So in order to celebrate the arrival of spring and sudden growth, its wild garlic week in my kitchen. Using wild instead of shop bought is more visually appealing and arguably tastier, more local, greener (in the environmental sense, as long as you pick it without destroying the plant) and best of all… free. I’m putting it in or on just about everything I’m planning to make this week (pizza, roast chicken, flatbreads…) but since, like this post which I’m writing for the March theme of Growth, it’s already a little late in the month, my first task is to turn some into garlic butter and pesto so that I can keep using it when the short season ends.
These two methods are so easy they dont really require recipes but hopefully the idea will get you out there collecting your own stash to use in your kitchen. I’ll be be posting a couple of my own recipes when I’ve made them later in the week as well and I’ve included a few links to tasty looking ones by others that should give you some inspiration in the meantime.
Update: Just to prove how much of an amateur I am, it turns out most of the “wild garlic” I foraged on this occasion was actually Few Flowered Leek! The leaves are much thinner and the flowers are individual buds instead of sprays of white flowers. The good news is that it tastes exactly the same and can be used in the same way. So if you make the same mistake, dont panic!
Happy foraging foodies!
Wild Garlic Butter
2o0g butter, softened. 1 large handful wild garlic leaves.
Finely chop the wild garlic and mash together with the butter. Spoon onto a piece of parchment, roll up into a sausage and twist the ends like a christmas cracker. Wrap in clingfilm and freeze. Slice off rounds as you need them.
Wild Garlic Pesto
This isnt true pesto as I’ve left out the parmesan and nuts to make it more versatile, but you can add these to the leaves and oil when you want to make a traditional pesto style sauce.
100g wild garlic leaves, roughly chopped. 1 shallot, roughly chopped. 200ml olive oil. 1 tsp salt.
Place the garlic, shallot, salt and most of the oil in a blender (or use a pestle and mortar) and blitz them together. Divide into sterilised jars (or freezer containers) and cover the top with the remaining oil. Store until required.
Some Wild Garlic Recipe ideas
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