Wild garlic is simply delicious stuff. In the spring it has a much milder taste than late in the summer, and unlike it’s commercial counterpart, you eat the leaves and the flowers, not the bulb (although you could).
Identification: You can smell the garlic before you see the plant. It has broad, spearlike leaves, which smell like garlic, and pretty white, starl-like flowers, in a rounded ball shape, which also smell like garlic. All parts are edible, the leaves preferably in spring.
Poisonous lookalikes: I couldn’t find any specifically, but the leaves do look a lot like the Lily of the Valley, which is poisonous but doesn’t smell like garlic, but if it doesn’t smell like garlic, it isn’t wild garlic.
Uses: Basically, anything you could do with Basil, you can do with wild garlic. You can make a soup, add it to salads, stir fry with onion and olive oil as a vegetable (instead of spinach, for example), and add a few dandelion heads for colour.
Well this is a bit of a cheat recipe really, but just to show you what you can do:
- Two slices of bread, naan bread, pitta bread, rice cracker or similar.
- Your favourite cold meat: mine is German peppered salami
- Ramson leaves and flowers, washed
You can butter your bread if you like, but I just cover the surface of the starchy item with ramson leaves, layer over the salami and top with the pretty flowers. Cover the top and enjoy. You could also add salt and pepper, mustard or whatever else you’d normally add to a sandwich. Delicious.
Wild garlic and ricotta gnocchi
This is a highly adaptable recipe, and I’ve made it as basil and ricotta in the past, which is equally tasty.
- 250g ricotta cheese (that’s easy, it’s one whole tub)
- wild garlic, a nice big cup full
- parmesan, finely grated (about 3 tablespoons should do it)
- flour â€“ I can’t give an accurate measure, because it’ll depend on how much garlic you add, but it’ll be a few spoon fulls
Add the ricotta, wild garlic and parmesan together in a food processor and blend till its all nicely mixed.
Add the flour, 3 tablespoons to start with, and mix till it’s all blended. You don’t want to add too much flour or your gnocchi will have a floury texture, but you need enough to make the batter pliable, like cookie dough.
Roll into a sausage shape about 2cm in diameter (just over an inch) and slice into rounds about a cm, (half an inch, I guess) apart.
Bring a pot of water to the boil, and drop the gnocchi into it. It only needs about a minute to cook. It’ll float when ready.
Dish up, and drizzle over some olive oil, sprinkle some parmesan shavings, and salt and pepper to taste.
Alternatively, you can pre-make a wild garlic pesto (follow the dandelion pesto recipe, but use wild garlic instead of dandelions) and serve the gnocchi with that.
Rocket, being very peppery in taste, also compliments this dish and could be served as a nice side salad.
Enjoy your Wild Garlic and Ricotta Gnocchi!
*and please always follow the rules of foraging