Wild Thing

28th March 2019

Perfect in pesto and piquant enough to liven up a wide range of recipes, small wonder wild garlic is a forager’s favourite. And it’s coming soon to a woodland near you.

Words by Gill Morgan

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If you go down to the woods today (or certainly in a few weeks’ time), you’re likely to be greeted by great swathes of white flowers carpeting the leafy slopes and moist verges of our countryside. Yes, it’s wild garlic season, that glory of English springtime.

Known by many aliases – ramsons, wood garlic and allium ursinum to name but a few – wild garlic is a bulbous, perennial, flowering plant, famed for its pungent scent and flavour (somewhere between onion and garlic), its fleshy green leaves and, most strikingly, its delicate, pretty white flowers. But where wild garlic really comes into its own is in the kitchen. Its Latin name, which translates as “bear’s garlic”, refers to the fact that the brown bears and wild boars of Western Europe were very keen on digging up the bulbs to scoff. But now, with the ever-growing interest in foraging and local ingredients, we humans are getting in on the act.

There are recipes aplenty for what to do with this most pungent of woodland plants. It seems there's nothing wild garlic won't make tastier, from Thomasina Miers’ fishcakes with wild garlic to Jamie Oliver's wild garlic and sausage fusilli and Nigel Slater's roast chicken and, you guessed it, wild garlic. But the pièce de résistance is undoubtedly pesto, with wild garlic taking the place of both the more usual garlic bulbs and the basil. Simply wash the leaves, then whizz up in a food processor with olive oil, Parmesan, sea salt and ground black pepper. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall does a version with pignuts rather than pine nuts, if you want to keep things really local. Thrifty, delicious and green – in every sense.

This article was taken from the Spring 2019 edition of the Goodwood Magazine.

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