Before spring really got underway, I had been impatiently anticipating the appearance of woodland garlic, or ramsons. It is not something we have in Australia, but I had seen photos of beautiful and vast carpets of wild garlic in flower in woodland undergrowth. I couldn't wait to see, smell and pick it for myself. The day we moved into the cottage I could smell the subtle scent of garlic on the breeze. It wasn't hard to identify the fresh leaves of wild garlic shooting up from the sodden earth. I crouched down, plucked a leaf and crushed it between my fingers. It is unmistakeable. Our village is surrounded by it, in the woods, by the roadsides and on the banks of the brook.
Although the leaves have been pushing up for well over a month now, the white flower heads are just beginning to open en masse. It won't be long before that woodland undergrowth is a sea of white.
Wild garlic is vibrant, lush and glossy, and such a welcome sight after the depths of winter. The most wonderful thing about wild garlic though, is that it is an abundant and delicious wild food, perfect for harvesting and using in everyday cooking. I am losing count of the ways I have been incorporating it in our meals.
I've chopped the leaves up and stirred them through scrambled eggs. I've spiked mayonnaise with it for using in homemade sushi. We've used our food processor to turn pocketfuls of leaves into pesto. That pesto has served as a dip with crackers, has been spooned over jacket potatoes with sour cream, and been stirred through pea risotto. I am yet to have it on pizza or pasta, but I am sure it will happen soon enough. It is really very versatile. Imagination is the only limitation.
I am planning to make a few batches of pesto in the coming weeks. It freezes very well, and I'd like to have a supply of it to use in cooking come the autumn and next winter.
Wild Garlic Pesto
wild garlic leaves
toasted pine nuts
Use a food processor to mix these ingredients in quantities to suit your taste and achieve your own desired consistency. Be sure that you are harvesting wild garlic though. The leaves are quite similar to those of lily of the valley- which is poisonous to humans.