Ramsons, Allium ursinum — also known as buckrams, wild garlic, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, bear leek, and bear’s garlic is now the very much sought after spring leaf that chefs just love to cook with. Unlike common cultivated garlic, it’s the leaves & flowers that are eaten rather than the bulbs. The taste is more delicate too, similar to the flavour of chives and it can be used in salads, pasta and made into a pesto. This increase in use coincides with the level of foraging coverage on TV (Hugh & Matt for example) and new “hands on” foraging courses & books now available. (www.thewildgarlic.co.uk www.wild-food.net www.hedgerow-harvest.com www.dorsetbushcraft.co.uk www.wildforage.co.uk ) (rules on foraging www.cottagecookbook.co.uk)
Top-tip if you are going to use the leaves in a salad, best to treat them with great care because they do bruise very easily.
Here is a great wild garlic pesto recipe that goes well with pasta, chicken & fish, especially bass. It is a recipe which you can freely tweak to your own personal tastes i.e. add the hazel nuts at the end and blend so you are left with a crunchy pesto. You can also freeze the sauce in ice-cube containers, which will then give you a supply of this wonderful pesto throughout the year.
This will make approximately 8 ice-cube sized portions, I can only make small batches because of the size of my blender(ahh!), so just multiply the amounts for larger blenders.
50g washed and dried fresh wild garlic leaves
10g fresh basil leaves (adds a great fragrance flavour to the pesto)
25g grated parmesan
25g pine nuts or hazel nuts (roasted in a frying pan)
50-100ml good olive oil (add a little at a time until you have the right consistency)
(you can also add lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper)
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until you have a nice thick sauce as below, you can always thin the sauce with extra olive oil when you come to use it. Spoon into the ice-cube container and freeze, once frozen you can remove the cubes from the container and place in a bag, leaving the container to be used for your next batch!