Wild garlic omelette
It might be a losing battle but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let the wild garlic season pass without me having a good go at nabbing as much of it as I can. I may not be a forager by nature - in fact, the closest I usually come to foraging is groping around in my handbag for stray cigarettes or house keys in the early hours - but every spring I come over all ‘hunter/gatherer’ and make an effort to pick wild garlic whenever I have the opportunity. The most recent example of this phenomenon was when I was running through the local park and abruptly decided to take a diversion up a particularly wild garlic-rich hill: to cut a long story short, I ran, red-faced, mud-splattered and profusely sweating, directly into a startled pair of unsuspecting ramblers (whilst brandishing two heavy handfuls of the green stuff). After an awkward and breathy conversation explaining my odd behaviour, I was determined to not let the fruits of my labour go wasted.
Don’t be scared of wild garlic, treat it like limited edition (garlic-flavoured) spinach, and suddenly the potential for usage grows as much as the rampant plant itself.
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 large handful of wild garlic, rinsed and chopped
3 medium-sized hens’ eggs (or 2 duck eggs), beaten
½ a teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 tablespoon of cream cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the wild garlic. Fry gently for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly, season with some salt and pepper then remove from the heat and tip the wild garlic into a sieve to drain off the excess liquid.
2. Wipe the frying pan with some kitchen paper then return the pan to a high heat. Toast the cumin seeds for a minute then warm the rest of the butter briefly until foaming. Tip in the eggs, initially swilling them around and, once the edges are cooked, place the cooked wild garlic in the middle. Spoon in the cream cheese, season with some more salt and pepper, then fold in half. Remove from the heat, leave for a minute and serve.
Celeriac, Cheese and Mushroom pie
Although this is vegetarian, I’ve yet to come across a meat eater that has even flagged it up as such. It ticks all the boxes pie-wise: comforting, filling and sustaining. You can eat it hot or cold, in winter or summer, at a dinner party or take with you on a picnic. It is quite time consuming but I think of this of as a soothing exercise in cooking; a calming and therapeutic way to spend a few spare hours. I hope that’s enough to tempt you to have a go. Serves 8.
- 1 celeriac, peeled, cut in half and sliced
- 200g of Stilton cheese, crumbled
- 2 x 320g sheets of puff pastry
- 50g butter
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1kg of chestnut mushrooms, chopped
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons of chopped thyme
- 1 small glass of dry white wine
- 100g of chopped walnuts
- 1 tablespoon of soured cream
- Salt and pepper
- 1 egg, beaten
1) Place the celeriac in a pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5-10 minutes (or until the celeriac is par boiled).
2) Melt the butter in a saucepan along with a tablespoon of olive oil and add the red onion. Fry gently for 5 minutes, stir in the thyme then add the chopped mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the white wine, turn the heat up and cook until the excess liquid has evaporated. Stir in the soured cream and stir in the celeriac.
3) Preheat the oven to 200C. Using 2 different sized plates, one roughly 28cm in diameter and the other roughly 24cm, cut two circles from the puff pastry. Lay the smaller circle on a baking sheet and prick all over with a fork. Spread half the celeriac mixture over the pastry leaving about a centimetre of edge, sprinkle over the cheese and add the remaining celeriac mix in a domed shape, brush the edge of the pastry base, then lay over the top sheet of pastry. Seal the edges down with a fork and, using a butter knife, gently carve waves down the edge of the pastry (this isn’t essential but makes it look showy). Finally, cut a small cross in the top of the pie and brush all over with the beaten egg. Bake for 25-35 minutes - or until deep golden brown – and serve with salad and chutney. How’s that for pie therapy?
Surely the world’s favourite chickpea dip
Imagining a day when hummus didn’t exist is almost as inconceivable to the middle class foodie as picturing a world without Radio 4. Luckily, both are readily available thanks to supermarkets keeping up with the trends and demands of the discerning grocery shopper and BBC respectively maintaining its broadcasting service.
As much as I enjoy supermarket varieties of hummus for a quick fix – you can even get multipacks with a trio (yes, three!) different flavours of hummus – nothing beats a thoughtfully prepared, minimalistic version. This recipe is one that was shown to me by a couple I met in Greece who spent over two decades living in Morocco, where it’s regarded as a cheap and wholesome staple of the traditional Arabic diet. Whereas trends may come and go, I suspect hummus will be on the shelves of food emporia for decades to come.
- 2 x 400g tins of chickpeas, in water
- 2 tablespoons of tahini paste
- 1-2 unwaxed lemons
- 2-3 peeled bulbs of garlic
- 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
- 1 large red onion
- Olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Groundnut oil (argan oil is even better)
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- 1 small bunch of coriander, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Drain 1 tin of chickpeas (reserving about 1 tablespoon of chickpeas), add to a saucepan and empty the contents of the other, water and all, to the pan. Add the garlic, 1 whole lemon and a teaspoon of salt. Simmer for 5 minutes over a medium heat.
- Remove the lemon from the pan, cut it in half and squeeze the juice into the pan. Add the tahini, ground coriander, fresh coriander (leaving a little for garnish), groundnut oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place in a blender and puree. Check for seasoning, squeeze over some more lemon juice and add some more salt and pepper if necessary then scrape into a serving bowl.
- Warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and add the onion. Fry for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Once the onions are browned add the paprika and fry for another minute or two then add the whole chickpeas. Warm through for another minute then spoon over the top of the hummus and finish off with the remaining fresh coriander and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with some flatbread, crunchy vegetables of your choice or, if it’s what you’re in the mood for, crisps.
Wild garlic pesto
‘tis the season for the stench of wild garlic. And what a beautiful thing that allium ursinum is. Nutritionists have hailed it as being effective in reducing blood pressure as well as having antibacterial properties – what more reason do you need to chow away at some ramsons?
It grows in abundance in early spring and thrives in shady areas such as woodland floors and river banks. One piece of advice I have is to make sure you don’t get it confused with Lily of the Valley, which is poisonous. If you’re not sure, simply pinch the leaves: if you catch an unmistakably garlic-like aroma then you’re safe to use it and can even eat the pretty flowers.
This recipe uses wild garlic in lieu of basil as the basis for pesto. Store it in jars and use it in one or many of the ways you would a traditional pesto.
- 20g walnut oil
- 30g groundnut oil
- 100g toasted pine nuts
- 70g coarsely grated parmesan
- 2 large handfuls of wild garlic, roughly chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
1) Place the oils, wild garlic, half the pine nuts and half of the parmesan in a blender or food processor. Blitz until smooth.
2) Grind the remaining pine nuts in a pestle and mortar until they are coarsely ground (you want some nice chunks in there). Stir in the oil and wild garlic mix, the grated parmesan, season well and hey pesto!