The shadowy margins of the Linden Walk near my house and the old railway line that runs alongside are presently lit by white-star carpets. Ramsons. Stink Bombs. Stinking Nanny. Londoner’s Lilies. Thank you, Richard Mabey and your Flora Britannica for all these country names for wild garlic.
I know many people loathe the smell of this plant, and it can indeed be overpowering on warm days, but whenever I catch a whiff, it simply inspires me to cook. You can eat the leaves and flowers. On Friday I used them to make a pesto sauce to go with steamed carrots, assorted allotment greens and braised salmon.
This is what I did to make it:
- Took a good handful of broken walnuts and lightly toasted them in a little olive oil
- Roughly chopped a dozen flower heads and a small bunch of garlic leaves
- Tipped all with the walnuts into a food processer
- Added more olive oil to cover, salt, black pepper and squeeze of fresh lemon juice and blitzed. More oil can be added according to taste and requirements.
This is good with pasta, or spooned on the top of fresh-made soup, especially broad bean, or the classic pistou. In his Food for Free book Richard Mabey also quotes the sixteenth century writer, John Gerard, who writing in The Herbal (1597) says that in Europe the leaves are used to make a sauce to go with fish, and adds that these may:
very well be eaten in April and May with butter, of such as are of strong constitution, and labouring men.
And what about labouring women, good sir? This particular one has great liking for ramsons. In fact I’m thinking now of using them to lace a homemade tomato sauce. Bon Appétit , and happy foraging.
And please pop over to Jude’s Garden Challenge. This month she wants to see our wild flower photos.