Take a stroll around Caragh Lake or the national park this time of year and it is impossible not to smell the beautiful scent of wild garlic. Growing amongst bluebells, wild garlic is easily identified and a great way to start foraging for your own food.
There are a few varieties of wild garlic growing in Ireland but ramsoms are the most common. Best picked before it starts to flower, now is the best time to pick it, so put on some wellies with the kids and get picking.
The leaves are edible and they can be used as salad, cooked as a vegetable, in soup, or as an ingredient for pesto instead of basil. It can also be used to flavour bread and soda bread. I also love to make a version of champ potato using the chopped leaves to replace the spring onions.
Below I’ve shared some of my favourite recipes, some using the garlic fresh and others preserve it for use at a later date.
Wild garlic, leek and potato soup
By adding smoked haddock to this soup, you have a starter that will impress your guests at your dinner party. Serves 4.
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium leeks, trimmed, washed and chopped
5 medium sized floury potatoes
850ml vegetable stock
100g wild garlic leaves
50ml cream or for a healthier option use milk
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crème fraiche to serve (optional)
- Add the oil or butter to a heavy-based saucepan and place over a medium heat.
- Add the onion and cook until soft, without allowing them to brown.
- Once the onion is soft, add the leeks and cook for a further 4 minutes until they have softened a little.
- Add the potatoes, followed by the stock.
- Bring to the boil and then leave to simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are fully cooked.
- Add the wild garlic leaves and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the milk or cream and blend the soup. Add more stock or water if the soup is too thick.
- Return to the pan and season with salt and pepper.
- Bring back to the boil and serve.
- Serve topped with crème fraiche.
Wild garlic pesto
One of my favourite uses for wild garlic pesto is to serve it with steamed baby potatoes. A spoon stirred through potato salad brings the salad to another level.
1 handful of wild garlic leaves, washed
1handful of parsley
60g pine nuts
60g finely grated parmesan cheese
120ml olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
- Put the wild garlic into a blender with the parsley leaves and a good splash of the olive oil.
- Blend till smooth..
- Add the pine nuts and blend again.
- Then add the parmesan and lemon juice, blend for 5 seconds. Turn into a bowl.
- Season with salt and pepper and add the remaining olive until the required consistency is achieved.
- Season with salt and pepper.
Wild garlic butter
Lovely served with steak.
1 large handful of wild garlic leaves, washed, dried and finely chopped
200g softened unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
- Add 1 teaspoon of the butter to a saucepan and place over a medium heat and add the chopped garlic leaves. Gently cook the leaves for 2 minutes until softened.
- Allow the garlic to cool and place into a bowl. Add the butter and beat until to smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Wild garlic oil
Infusing wild garlic into oil means you can inject this unique flavour into all manner of dishes, from salad dressing to sauces. Once made, the oil can be kept in the fridge for up to a week. I love to use the oil when making a fresh mayonnaise.
- Wash, the wild garlic. Place a pan of water on and bring to a rapid boil.
Place the garlic into the water, boil for 10 seconds and drain. Plunge the wild garlic into a bowl of iced water to cool quickly. Once cold drain well and refresh the wild garlic
- Roughly chop the leaves and add to a blender
- Start to blitz on a low speed, then gradually add rapeseed oil in a steady stream while the blender is running. Continue until a bright green liquid has been achieved
- Pass through a fine sieve and then season.
Written by Mark Doe of Just Cooking.