I bloody love wild garlic. It’s garlic but milder, prettier and free! During these long days of lockdown our hour exercise has become an almost sacred time in our house. The whole way along our chosen path we keep an eye out for wild garlic (also known as ramsons, buckrams, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, bear leek or bear’s garlic) but so far, no joy. Our usual foraging spot is out of reach with the current restrictions so I had resigned myself to a wild garlic-less 2020. Today, we were on our way back from our walk and the teen said ‘I smell garlic’ we had almost walked past an entire hedgerow of it!
What do you do when faced with an entire hedgerow of wild garlic? You pick a bouquet of it, pop it in a vase. Edible and pretty flowers for the kitchen. The whole of the garlic is edible – stem, leaf and flower. The leaves have the best flavour prior to flowering but are perfectly tasty even when in flower.
I digress. So, dinner. I used orzo as that is what I had in the cupboard, this recipe would work well with any pasta/spaghetti, gnocci, cubed pan fried potatoes or stirred through rice. Whatever you have, this lovely wild garlic paste/sauce will enhance it.
Ingredients, serves 4
400g orzo or pasta of your choice
1 bunch of wild garlic, held like a bunch of flowers with stalks approx. the circumference of a 50p piece
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, I use Maldon
Half a cup of nutritional yeast
10-12 basil leaves, optional
2 tablespoons plant milk
1. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving a tablespoon of cooking water. Return orzo and water to pan.
2. Blend all other ingredients excluding milk in a food processor. If you don’t have one chop the garlic very finely – see next step.
3. Stir the wild garlic paste through the orzo. If you chopped the garlic by hand, add the garlic and the rest of the ingredients to the pan now
4. Return the pan to a low heat and add the plant milk, stir the mixture through ensuring the orzo is well covered. If needed, add an extra splash of plant milk.
5. Serve with a garden salad, focaccia, garlic bread, chilli flakes or just a knife and fork!
I know times are very strange at the moment but please take the time to get out for a walk if you can do so safely, forage, enjoy nature. Then enjoy the fruits of your labour. It’s all about the little things, at the moment they are all we have. And maybe that’s not so awful.