Cooking with Wild Garlic

I went for a run through the woods near me the other day and noticed the unmistakable smell of garlic. When I looked down the grassy bank I could see the wild garlic leaves carpeting the ground.

Wild garlic can be identified by its distinct garlic-like smell and long flat green leaves. It is in season from late winter through to late spring, and can be found in woodland areas and by riverbanks. Later in the season it has pretty white flowers, which I have had in a vase before now on the kitchen table.

Wild garlic leaves are edible and are a foragers favourite as they grow very abundantly. There are lots of wild garlic recipes out there such as risotto, pesto, in sandwiches with cheese, soups and salads. It is an ingredient that I haven’t cooked with before, so I decided to try it in a pasta dish.

Fusilli, pesto, mushrooms, prosciutto and wild garlic

Ingredients (Serves 2)

200g Fusilli
2 tablespoons of Pesto
175g Portobello mushrooms sliced
4 slices prosciutto, cut into 1cm strips
A small handful of wild garlic leaves, washed and roughly chopped
Knob of butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Basil leaves for serving

Method

Add the butter to a saucepan and heat on a low temperature, after a couple of minutes add the sliced mushrooms and sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring every so often until soft.

Meanwhile put the pasta in a saucepan of boiling salted water and cook for 8-10 minutes until al-dente, drain.

Put the pasta back into the (hopefully still warm) saucepan, add the wild garlic leaves and prosciutto, stir through the pesto thoroughly to ensure all the ingredients are evenly combined and heated through. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately with a mixed salad.

How was it?

The classic pesto and pasta combination is always a tasty one. The juiciness of the mushrooms, basil pesto and the slightly salty taste of the prosciutto are the first flavours to come through, then the wild garlic follows with a tang and subtle garlickly kick.

I think if I did the dish again I’d add another texture into the mix, like pine nuts for some crunch. For my first try though, I’d say I like wild garlic and I’d use it again. Next on my list is to try it in a Sourdough loaf – so watch this space.