Foraging in general is a joy. Free food, incredibly fresh, often difficult to source otherwise. I was at home last week and used it as an opportunity to stock up on gorgeous wild garlic.
My trip home was last minute. I was invited to speak at Facebook in Dublin for International Women’s Day and I jumped at the chance to immerse myself in company and to spend a little time at home. I was quite curious about facebook, too. I wanted to plug in and opt out, just for a little bit. It was a wonderful day in the end, I left inspired and hopeful, and reminded that community is so important, and that this is difficult for someone who spends lots of time working at home alone.
The last few months have been challenging. My book is very late. There are many reasons for that, me at the centre of all of it. I am stressed by this, very, and I feel like I have let people down. But it is coming. I am so nervous and prone to the occasional panic, my friends are cautioned not to mention it at this stage (is it the same for all writers?).
In the middle of all of this, I have been in London working on that book furiously, tying up loose ends, going slightly mad as is the case with any super solitary occupation. Writing can be lonely and it can eat at you, but if you want to write, you do. I love it, of course I do, I just miss having people around to bounce off and chat to. I really miss being able to connect and just have a laugh sometimes.
Foraging Wild Garlic in Rural Ireland
In the meantime there is brunch, an hour where I can turn my brain off and try to think of little else. I have never been a morning person, I start my day with coffee and then a few hours later brunch. My stomach needs a little time to wake up, as with my head. This morning brunch centred around some gorgeous wild garlic that I foraged at home last weekend. My sister, my 7 year old niece and her friend and I went to a local wood which was carpeted with wild garlic. We had a great day. The sun came out just as we reached the wood, and the woodland sparkled. It was somewhere I used to go in childhood, I used to camp there as a teenager too.
It is early in the season and the wild garlic flowers aren’t out yet, so the leaves are young and mild. Once the flowers appear it is much stronger and requires blanching. These are tender and gentle now, and good to go. I picked some, taking care to leave the roots behind and to pick in patches ensuring not to damage the growth. I took a few with roots, hoping they might settle in my garden, they are a little limp right now, perhaps the soil isn’t right. I put some in a pot too. I check them every now and then, hoping that they will perk up. The sun is back in London now and it is glorious. Hopefully my wild garlic transplants think so too.
In order to preserve the wild garlic leaves destined for my plate, I made a simple pesto, a pre-pesto almost. A simple combination of wild garlic, walnuts and extra virgin olive oil. Sometimes I use hazelnuts, pine nuts are great too. This can live in the fridge in a sterilised jar and become a proper pesto with the addition of a hard cheese like parmesan. I plan to add black garlic, rich and deep and sweet and see what becomes of that. I will use it as it is also, drizzled over soups or added to pasta dishes. This morning I thinned it out with oil and added a little chilli, then used it to drape my brunch hash. It was gorgeous.
Enjoy! What do you make with wild garlic?
Blasts from the past (aka other ELAG wild garlic recipes)
Gorgeous wild garlic recipes from my favourite blogs
Two Garlic Soup from Food Stories
Wild Garlic and Blue Wensleydale Tart from Lavender and Lovage
Wild Garlic Risotto from Cooksister
This pesto is a pre-pesto which can be finished with parmesan or another hard cheese, or used as is in soups, stews or on anything that could do with a punchy flourish. Add 1 tbsp of fine grated parmesan for every 4 tbsp of the wild garlic and walnut mixture.
- 150g wild garlic leaves, rinsed and squeezed dry
- 35g walnuts
- 150ml extra virgin olive or rapeseed oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 average potato, peeled and cut into dice
- 3 slices smoked streaky bacon
- 1 tbsp wild garlic and walnut pesto
- 1 egg
- a pinch of chilli (I use a mild one - Turkish pul biber, Aleppo pepper or Korean gochugaru - mainly for the fruity flavour)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive or rapeseed oil