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Wild garlic leaves

5 ways with wild garlic

by Great British Chefs 13 March 2019

Wild garlic is bursting into season, emerging in woodlands all over the UK. Here are five quick and easy wild garlic recipes to make the most of one of spring's most cherished ingredients.

Every spring in late February to early March, wild garlic sprouts in woodland areas all over the country, and a nation of chefs and foodies sing its praises, rushing to be the first to show off their haul on social media. Versatile and delicious, wild garlic is one of the most glorious bounties that the season has to offer, with its fragrant flavour offering a boost to all manner of dishes.

Often growing in shady woodland areas huddled amongst bluebells, wild garlic is easily foraged. It pays to take care and make sure you know what you're picking though – wild garlic is often mistaken for the poisonous Lily of the Valley – so always check for that distinctive garlicky smell! Later in spring, wild garlic will produce an abundance of beautiful white flowers – these have a similar mellow garlic flavour to the leaves and can also be eaten, making them a beautiful garnish for dishes.

Read on for five simple ways to incorporate this seasonal classic into your cooking, from a hearty pesto to a punchy wild garlic mayonnaise and even a way to pickle the flower buds for the months ahead. For more information on sourcing, cooking and serving wild garlic, visit our how to cook wild garlic page, and don't forget to check out our full collection of wild garlic recipes.

Wild garlic pesto

A delicious introduction to the joys of wild garlic, Danny Kingston's pesto recipe couldn't be simpler. The most time-consuming part is likely tracking down a good handful of wild garlic beforehand – once you've done that, just blitz it with pine nuts, Parmesan, a bit of parsley and lemon juice and add enough olive oil to bring the whole lot together. Feel free to swap out for equivalent ingredients (walnuts work equally well) and then stir the sauce through pasta, drizzle it over potatoes or simply spread it on toast.

Wild garlic mayonnaise

Having worked as Nathan Outlaw's right-hand man for many years, Pete Biggs knows a thing or two about making a good mayonnaise – and this wild garlic number has accompanied its fair share of fish and seafood dishes. He starts by making a wild garlic oil – blanching the wild garlic and blending it with rapeseed oil – then uses that to make his mayonnaise. Give your mayonnaise a good whisking early to get the emulsion working, then gradually add your oil and mix together – you should be left with a lovely verdant green sauce at the end.

Wild garlic soup

Anna Hansen's wild garlic soup is one of the first recipes we turn to when we see these very special leaves appearing. She cleverly separates the stems and leaves of the wild garlic, sautéing the former then blending in the latter at the end to preserve the freshness and colour. The soup alone makes a wonderful weekday dinner or lunch, but Anna's marinated feta cheese turns it into something revelatory.

Pickled wild garlic buds

Pickling is a fantastic way of preserving ingredients, especially when they have such a short season. Wild garlic buds are worth preserving if you find any hiding among the leaves – they have a lovely floral note to them, as well as looking pretty. Pollyanna Coupland pickles the buds in sugar, cider vinegar and pink peppercorns to give them a nice sweet and sour balance. Scatter them over salads or use them as you would capers in sauces for a quintessential flavour of British springtime.

Wild garlic ketchup

Pea and wild garlic make excellent bedfellows in this tasty ketchup, which can be eaten alongside all sorts of things, from fish and seafood to lamb. The key is in keeping the colour of your peas and wild garlic nice and vivid – blanch them both gently then chill in ice water to preserve the colour. Once that's done, blend the two with sweated onions, garlic, cider vinegar and oil. The ketchup should keep for a good week or so, but it might start to lose its colour after that.

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