Wild garlic is in season right now and I’m like a woman possessed scouring verges and wooded areas for this completely free food. I’ve even trained my children to be on the lookout. It’s not hard to identify as the garlicky smell is unmistakable (but do check because it does look similar to Lilly of the Valley – which is poisonous). Not a great photo but this is what it looks like.
My son Edgar likes to eat it raw in huge handfuls as soon as he’s picked it. I’m sure this is fine for his health (wild garlic is said to have antibacterial, antibiotic and antiseptic properties) but it doesn’t do much for his breath.
If you live in Nottingham there’s a healthy blanket of wild garlic at Clifton Wood, and on a recent trip to Scarborough I discovered a great bit patch among the walking paths in South Cliff Gardens.
This wild garlic pesto recipe (from a recipe for gluttony) is brilliant. It uses roasted hazelnuts which provide texture. I just added a little lemon juice to cut through the intense garlic flavour. Toss it with some pasta for a quick and easy dinner.
Wild garlic pesto
1/2 of this amount makes enough to generously cover 500g of dried pasta to feed a family of four
- 100g of wild garlic leaves
- 75g of hazelnuts (roasted in the oven at 160oC for about 10 minutes and then crushed with a pestle and mortar)
- 50g of Parmesan cheese (plus more on top if you’re mixing the pesto with pasta)
- 1/2-1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 150ml of good olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
Put all the ingredients above in a blender and whizz up. Taste and add more salt and lemon juice if necessary.
To store, decant into a sterilised jar and drizzle a thin layer of olive oil evenly over the surface (this will help preserve the colour). Keep in the fridge until needed.