Wild Garlic

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If you’ve been walking in any woodland this spring, or by a river in my case, you may well have caught the scent of garlic on the breeze – oh yes, it’s free food!

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Wild Garlic is all around England in the spring, and is best picked before it flowers (although I think it’s fine after too, just less pungent). The long green leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, and the flavour is milder than regular garlic.

If you fancy picking some, just make sure it’s garlic by rubbing the leaves with your fingers and inhaling the garlic smell – if it doesn’t smell it might not be garlic, and therefore might be poisonous, so make sure you check.

I ended up making Wild Garlic Oil and Wild Garlic Pesto with mine, but it is pretty versatile – if you want more inspiration try the demuths blog here.

 Or see below for what I did with mine…

Wild Garlic Oil recipe

Inspiration from @ellypear on instagram

1 quantity of Wild Garlic (I picked a large handful which was about 65g when weighed)

1 small bottle of olive/rapeseed oil

sterilised bottles/jars to fill with your oil

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Fill a bowl with cold water and ice cubes and set aside. Put a kettle of water on to boil.

Wash the garlic, then pour the boiling water into a pan and immerse the garlic to blanch it. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and plunge into the iced water.

Remove from bowl and squeeze out as much excess water as you can. Roughly chop the leaves and put in a blender/food processor with some olive or rapeseed oil. Pulse until the mixture becomes runny and very green – you may need to add more olive oil as you go.

If you are making oil, push the mixture through a sieve to remove the pulp and give you a lovely green oil.

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I had some with a fried egg & mushrooms on toast and it was delicious!

Wild Garlic & Hazelnut Pesto

1 quantity of wild garlic (as above)

olive/rapeseed oil

parmesan

nuts (pine nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds would all work)

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If making pesto, do the same as for the oil above, but instead of pushing the mixture through a sieve, leave in the food processor.

Add roughly half the amount of parmesan and nuts to wild garlic (I used hazelnuts as I had no pine nuts), and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Pulse until you are happy with the consistency of the pesto, and taste as you go, adding more of the various ingredients if you need to.

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This pesto was really delicious and went perfectly with:

Pan-fried Gnocchi with Wild Garlic Pesto, Broccoli, Spinach and Pancetta

adapted from Michel Roux here

serves 2

1 pack fresh gnocchi

1 portion of Wild Garlic Pesto (see above)

200g tenderstem broccoli or equivalent green veg

50g pancetta cubes

100g spinach

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  1. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and tip in the gnocchi and the pancetta. Fry until golden-brown. (the gnocchi will look a bit like mini roast potatoes!)
  2. While the gnocchi and pancetta is cooking, steam the tenderstem broccoli (or whichever green veg you end up using).

  3. Tip the spinach into the frying pan for the last minute of cooking, so that it wilts. Pile into bowls and stir through the pesto, adding extra parmesan if desired.

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The amount of wild garlic I had made one small jar of oil and two of pesto (about enough for 4 servings). I made the oil first, then realised I had all this lovely pulp left that I didn’t want to throw away, so made that into the pesto. I’m not sure if the pesto would’ve tasted stronger if I’d left the oil in it, but I was really happy with flavour of both the oil and the pesto!

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 Happy foraging!

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