Friday, 11 May 2012

Wild Garlic

As foraging goes, wild garlic has got to be one of the most desirable finds out there; it's plentiful, it's versatile, it's easy to recognise, it's garlicky... I particularly like the garlicky part... But in two springs of looking I've never found any in St Albans, so, except for a taster or two at Wild Food Nights, I had yet to experience wild garlic for myself - until recently.

Yep, we finally found some a short drive away, thanks to an 'insider' tip off! I thought he was having us on for a while - we scoured the area for ages and had nearly given up. And then we found it. Loads of it!

We picked a bagful, taking no more than one or two leaves per plant, and ended up with enough for several dishes!

Wild garlic is, obviously, similar to garlic in flavour, but with a grassy, fresh kinda feel. It's mild enough that you can almost use it as a leaf vegetable and throw loads in. And it keeps in the fridge for days!

First we used it to make chicken kievs - we pureed it with butter and seasoning, stuffed chicken breasts with it, coated in flour, egg and breadcrumbs (must be in that order!) and baked. They didn't stay together too well... but they were delish. I was afraid the wild garlic would lose its flavour with the longish cooking time, but it didn't.

Next, a quick wild garlic pasta, with mushrooms, butter and a splash of wine and cream. I used 6-8 large leaves per person, chopped finely. Gorgeous!

And finally a feast of curry dishes: wild garlic rice, wild garlic pakoras from here (I recommend pre-cooking the potato!), wild garlic and chickpea salan - a buttery south-Asian curry - with some added green beans, and a cashew nut curry which I improvised with coconut milk and a little tomato puree - rich and filling and lovely! I made the rice by crackling a few mustard seeds in a little oil, stirring in the rinsed basmati rice, adding twice the volume of boiling water, cooking for just a few minutes, stirring in the chopped wild garlic, then covering tightly and leaving to stand off the heat until we were ready to eat - about 15 more minutes. I was a little concerned the whole dish would be too garlicky, but it wasn't - it was wonderful!

Wild garlic is flowering now (the flowers are edible too!) and the season will be over before long. I'm very tempted to buy some seeds and scatter them somewhere nearby (or maybe under the trees at the bottom of the garden) so I don't have so far to go next year! It's a little invasive but... that just means I have to eat more, right?

1 comment:

Stuart McPherson said...

I have been looking, and keeping my nose out! for wild garlic around St Albans! Care to share the location?

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