At Seedlings we enjoyed learning and picking wild garlic, which is in abundance during the spring, when the leaves start spreading out under the leaf-less canopy on the woodland floor. The leaves are obvious to distinguish due to their garlicy smell, but if you’re uncertain, rub the leaf between your fingers and then smell your fingers.
Wild garlic leaves can be eaten raw – just beware: it’ll make your breath smell of garlic for days! Once cooked, however, the leaves loose their raw garlic flavour, transforming them into a deeply nutty and wonderful flavour.
Pick a good handful or two of garlic leaves and wash them. Instead of drying the leaves like you would for lettuce, put them straight into a pan on a medium heat. Keep turning them for about 2-3 minutes whilst they wilt, so that they don’t burn. Then they’re ready to eat, as an accompaniment to your main dish like you would for spinach, or just on their own, perhaps with a little olive oil drizzled over the top and lots of black pepper.
Another good way to enjoy wild garlic is in a risotto. If you know what you are doing, you can also find wild mushrooms to go with it – St George’s Day mushrooms are delicious at this time of year, usually found on a dewy morning amongst grassland.
1 tbsp olive oil
Garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Wild garlic leaves
Fry an onion that’s chopped up in a little olive or rapeseed oil over a high heat. As it starts to soften add in the risotto rice and stir, coating the rice in the oil thoroughly. Reduce the heat, and add in the stock, a bit at a time, giving the rice time to absorb the liquid each time. This process takes about half an hour, so meanwhile, slice up the mushrooms and fry them in a little butter or oil. When they are cooked, add a chopped clove of garlic and a splash of balsamic vinegar over them, and a handful of fresh thyme leaves, and set aside, keeping them warm. When the rice has finished cooking/the stock is fully absorbed, take off the heat and stir in the washed garlic leaves. When they have wilted, pile the mushrooms on top and serve with a drizzle of olive oil.
This recipe also works well with nettles instead of wild garlic leaves – just be careful because they sting, so wear gloves to pick them! Once they are wilted, however, they won’t sting and taste delicious. They’re also high in iron and vitamin C, and free!