Saturday, 3 May 2014

Wild garlic

The woods are full of wild garlic at the moment, easily recognised by their lush growth, spikes of white flowers, and the garlic scent perfuming the air. Last year I really wanted to try cooking with it but was too late. Although it can be eaten at all stages, it's supposed to be best when the leaves are still young and before the flowers are in full bloom. I was determined not to miss out this time so, while I've been off this week, we headed down to the local woods where I knew there were several large patches to be found.

I gathered a few handfuls and stored them in a bucket before washing well in lots of water - always advisable for anything growing at dog height!

First up was soda bread using a recipe by Jamie Oliver. I'd originally planned to make proper bread but was swayed by the fact that soda bread is really simple and a lot quicker to make. Next time I'd use more wild garlic than recommended as the flavour is very subtle - I could taste more pepper than garlic. They look good though despite having a strange greenish tinge when cut open!

The second recipe was wild garlic pesto which I adapted from a couple of other pesto recipes. It makes the most amazing vibrant green sauce and the flavour intensifies over time. I read somewhere that wild garlic leaves don't have the same effect on your breath as cloves of garlic - don't you believe it, another internet myth!

Wild garlic pesto

2 large handfuls of wild garlic leaves, washed
3 tbsp pine nuts
50g finely grated parmesan cheese
handful basil leaves
100ml olive oil

Put all the ingredients except the olive oil in a blender or food processor and finely chop. Gradually add the olive oil until well combined. Store in a jar. Drizzle liberally over anything you like!

Having made the pesto I wanted to use it in a recipe with some of the leaves too. Browsing through my back issues of food magazines, I came across one for crab linguine and thought it would make a good combination. Here's my version.

Crab and wild garlic linguine

1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp pine nuts (optional)
1 tin crab meat
2 tbsp creme fraiche
Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
Squeeze of lemon juice
Handful of wild garlic leaves, shredded
Wild garlic pesto

1. Cook the linguine according to the instructions on the packet. Reserve a little of the cooking liquid when you drain it (about a tbsp).
2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan.
3. Fry the onion and pine nuts gently until the onion softens and the pine nuts turn golden.
4. Stir in the crab meat, creme fraiche, lemon zest & juice, and the wild garlic leaves. Heat through.
5. Add the cooked linguine and the reserved liquid. Stir together until the linguine has been coated in the sauce.
6.  Serve in a pasta bowl drizzled with the wild garlic pesto.

Hope you enjoy the recipes. I love foraging and will be looking out for more wild garlic ideas for next spring. Next time I want to show you what else we saw down in the woods - so much to see this time of year, both flora and fauna! x


  1. Every year we say we are going to make wild garlic pesto and/or other things but we never do! Your bread looks so tasty!

  2. Wow, you certainly made the most of it! I never would have thought of adding it to bread, a great way to use it though. xx

  3. My mouth is watering...and I spotted some wild garlic on a stroll yesterday...I'll be right back! ;-) Chrissie x

  4. Both those recipes look lovely, G keeps saying he is going to make wild garlic pesto but hasn't ever done it yet! I will show him want you have made to inspire him!
    Marianne x

  5. Oh yum, my tummy is rumbling. I've never cooked with wild garlic, although I love the sound of the bread and the pesto. We love pesto in this house! And that pasta meal with the crab looks divine. I am now on the look out for wild garlic! x

  6. Phwoar, that is REALLLY tasty looking!!!!!! Mine was more solid and less smooth-looking and we used walnuts!!!
    That recipe for the linguine looks a great one!x