Wild garlic flowers are beginning to emerge, with the season lasting until around June. So how can we make the most of it? Here plant-based cook Bettina Campolucci Bordi, founder of Bettina’s Kitchen, gives us the lowdown.
Wild Garlic: How To Forage and Use
You’ll always find the best things in the wild, and this is no exception. Best foraged in March, wild garlic is able to be grown in dense clumps in close proximity to bluebells and crocuses, allowing their long leaves to intertwine. They are less potent than their common cloved sister, but just as versatile. Once spotted they are best to be touched, picked and absorbed by all of your senses. Gently rub between your fingers and allow the volatile perfume of its natural essence to entice you in. It should be a mix of a spring onion’s sweetness mixed with the raw mustiness of the bulb variety.
How To Forage
If harvesting yourself, be respectful of the forager code: only take a small amount for yourself and leave enough for your foraging comrades and furry critters that thrive off the land. Even though the bulb is edible, make sure to leave it behind and pick right at the soil root to ensure it grows next year for you to enjoy in all its wild glory again. You don’t have to don your trench coat and boots to seek out this culinary delicacy anymore though – it’s easily found at local farmer’s markets and superstores.
Wild garlic is surprisingly delicate to touch with long wiry fronds and idyllic star-shaped white flowers that bloom to announce the end of season’s bounty. If you are foraging, best to leave these ones be – older leaves tend to carry more of a bitter earthy twang than the fresh liveliness of the younger ones.
As with any green vegetable, look for a rich and vivid colour and avoid any signs of wilting. Treat as a more aromatic version of the leafier spinach and wilt down and drape over artisan baked pizza bases, whizz into a homemade pesto to stir through pasta or risotto, or add to breadcrumbs to top fish before baking. Keep your harvest fresh by storing either in an air-tight container or in a glass of water in the fridge. If you have an abundance with more than you know what to do with, pop them in the freezer – but make sure to combine or infuse into butter or oil beforehand to help keep that fresh bold flavour.
I love incorporating wild garlic in cooking. It is such a brilliant flavour and great for making wild garlic pesto. This pasta dish here is easy, quick and incorporates some pantry staples that you should have available at home. The simplicity of the flavours is what makes this recipe so great.
Recipe: Wild Garlic Pesto Pasta
For the pesto pasta
- 100g spaghetti
- 50g sunflower seeds
- Handful of wild garlic
- 2 spring onions
- 60ml olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions.
- Blend all other ingredients together in a blender until smooth.
- Drain the pasta, keeping aside some of the pasta water, pour half the pesto onto the pasta, and mix well. If it feels
- slightly too thick you can add a little bit of pasta water to loosen it up.
- On a serving plate, spread some of the remaining pesto across the base, place the pasta on top, then drizzle the rest of the pesto over the top. This is delicious topped with pangrattato or parmesan.