wild garlic 10

26 Apr VAMPIRES AND GARLIC BREATH

I seem to have spent more time with people on the beach in the last few weeks and less around the hedgerows as I usually would at this time of year. I have been finding Royal Fern Weed (osmundea osmunda) on the rocks at the lowest of tides (and thank you to Fiona www.amazon.co.uk/Foragers-Kitchen-Fiona-Bird  who commented on it to me from her far flung home on South Uist. It has a great taste and is larger than its relative Pepper Dulse, which makes it easier to harvest. These two osmundea seaweeds which have a slight truffle and garlic flavour are my favourite for eating freshly picked straight off the rocks.

I know everyone is probably already fed up with wild garlic otherwise known as   ramsons (allium ursinum), but it is one of the most available and exciting ingredients around at the moment in Pembrokeshire. To preserve wild garlic put 500g clean dry wild garlic leaves in a food processor with 500ml olive oil and blitz. Store in lidded jars in your fridge where it will last for ages (I have some from last year which I am still using). Every time I take some out I top up the jar with a little more olive oil. This garlic flavoured oil is useful on its own to drizzle a little emerald colour onto salads, soups, etc.
Remember that you can eat the whole plant, the bulbs, flowers, seeds and stem as well as the leaves and if any of you are suffering from vampire problems  wild garlic will keep them away. Of course if you eat lots of it there is the distinct possibility that it will keep everyone else away too….
Wild Garlic has been used to treat asthma and other respiratory disorders and during the Middle Ages the herb was instrumental in treating cholera and in preventing the plague. Fresh juice from the small bulbs was also an important wound dressing and they were chewed to aid breathing and to treat digestion and intestinal gas.

This altogether stinky plant has regained popularity and it is always wonderful to see the bright green leaves coming through to herald the onset of spring. As the season wears on these plants, which favour damp and woody areas, produce beautiful white star-like flowers and can often carpet a woodland floor along with the bluebell. Together they make a wonderful sight although the smell of garlic overpowers everything else!

Baba Ghanoush with Wild Garlic

Ingredients

  • 1 aubergine
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons wild garlic preserved in olive oil

Method

  • Preheat oven to 200 C / Gas mark 6. Lightly grease a baking tray.
  • Cut aubergine in half and place cut-side down on oiled baking sheet. Roast it for approx. 30 minutes or until soft.
  • Cool slightly then scoop out flesh into food processor along with other ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Chill in fridge before serving.
pepper dulse or royal fern

Wild Garlic Soup

Ingredients

  • Knob of butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled & chopped
  • 750ml chicken stock
  • 500g wild garlic leaves, washed
  • 100ml double cream
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  • Melt the butter and add the onion and cook until soft but not browned.
  • Add potatoes and seasoning and stir and then add the chicken stock.
  • Simmer until potatoes are almost cooked.
  • Add the wild garlic and continue to cook for a few minutes more.
  • Blitz the soup to blend, add the cream and reheat slowly
  • (Serves 4)

Three cornered leek (allium triquetrum) can be substituted for the wild garlic.

Cold Ramsons Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 heaped tablespoons ramsons leaves
  • 1/2 pint mayonnaise
  • 1 heaped tablespoon parsley

Method

  • Rinse and dry parsley and ramsons, then chop finely and stir into mayonnaise.
  • Use with fish, or salads.