It’s free, it’s tasty and it’s healthy, so jazz up your pasta dishes with freshly picked wild garlic
Wild garlic wafting through a woodland on a brisk May morning is the scent of spring, while incorporating these vibrant green leaves into your cooking is the ultimate taste of the season.
Now is the perfect time to go on a foraging trip, as wild garlic - also known as bear’s garlic, Ramsons and wood garlic - is in season from late March to June and is at its best in late April through to the end of May.
Look for clumps of these distinctive green leaves and white flowers in shady, damp areas, such as around streams in the heart of a wood or forest. As well as tasting fantastic, wild garlic has numerous health benefits due to its blood-purifying properties and it's also thought to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
A much lighter flavour than traditional bulb garlic, the leaves and flowers are edible, while young leaves are delicious added to soups and sauces.
Try this simple pesto, which can be stored in a jar for two weeks and added to pasta, soup or used as a spread to posh up your sandwiches.
WILD GARLIC PESTO
150g wild garlic leaves or young nettles, or a mixture (if you can’t find any wild garlic, you can use nettles as an alternative)
50g parmesan or vegetarian alternative, finely grated
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Half lemon, zested with a few squeezes of juice
50g pine nuts, toasted
150ml vegetable oil, ideally rapeseed, but you can use olive oil
Step 1: Rinse and roughly chop the wild garlic leaves.
Step 2: Blitz the wild garlic leaves, parmesan, garlic, lemon zest and pine nuts to a rough paste in a food processor or pestle and mortar. Season with a little salt and pepper and add almost all the oil. Taste, season and add a few squeezes of lemon juice.
Step 3: Transfer the pesto to a clean jar and top with the remaining oil. It will keep in the fridge for two weeks, so simply stir into cooked pasta for an easy midweek meal.
Freshly picked wild garlic can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge, or pop the stem in a glass of water and put in the fridge to help stay fresh for longer. Wild garlic can also be frozen to preserve its freshness and nutrients, meaning you an use it out of season. Simply wash and dry, place in a freezer bag and freeze.