… you should be able to find wild garlic (Ramsons). After a simple but perfect picnic of ‘Jamie burgers’ (homemade by my man), salad and bread, followed by cupcakes and cookies (homemade by my little man, with a little help from me!) and a glass of the red stuff in Sunday's glorious late afternoon sunshine we went off to the woods with some dear friends to grab ourselves some wild garlic.
The cooking contraption in the picture is a Paella ring that we brought back from
some years ago. It is fab – we use it all the time; garden, beach, camping. I love my 1950’s Italian picnic set; a birthday present from my parents. Six glasses on a tray lift out and underneath there are 6 dinner plates, 6 small plates and 6 bowls. So stylish - trust the Italians! Spain
Whilst the food cooked my little man was in charge of 'the battle of the Gogo's'!
Bellies full we went off to search for garlic - it wasn't hard to find. There were swathes of the dark green leaves all across the banks on either side of the pathways. The air was full of the scent of it. The leaves look just like the leaves of lily-of-the-valley, which is poisonous, but it would be almost impossible to confuse the two – just use your nose. If in doubt, crush a leaf between your fingers. The children played happily whilst we took just as much as we needed, taking care not to damage the roots or bulbs.
The leaves will be chopped and used in salads and pesto, some will be used to flavour vinegar and the rest will be finely chopped and frozen, to be added to soups, stews etc (as the Slovaks do - thanks Anna!). The leaves can also be stirred into risottos or omelettes, or used in sauces to accompany meat or fish. You can also eat the flowers, although the flowers had not yet appeared on the garlic we were picking.
Wild Garlic Vinegar
Lasts for ages and great for giving a real garlicky kick to any salad dressing. You will need:
A large handful of wild garlic leaves and flowers
450ml white wine vinegar
Chop the leaves and any flowers quite coarsely and then crush them further in a pestle and mortar. Heat half the vinegar to boiling point and pour it onto the garlic. Pound for a moment, then leave to cool. When cool, mix with the rest of the vinegar and pour the lot into a sterilized bottle. Leave for 2 weeks, shaking every 2 or 3 days, then strain and rebottle.
Wild Garlic Pesto
I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but will tomorrow!
To use on pasta, take the edge off by using some basil and, against strict Genovese tradition, a little lemon juice. If you put it in a well-boiled jar and cover the surface of the pesto with olive oil, it'll keep in the fridge for weeks. Or you can freeze it.
150g of fresh wild garlic leaves
50g of fresh basil
60g of finely grated Parmesan cheese
60g of pine nuts, fried till golden (or, for a change, walnuts – much cheaper)
20ml of lemon juice
140ml of light olive oil
half a teaspoon of sea salt and pepper.
Combine all the ingredients, whizz up and check the seasoning. Stir into your favourite pasta.