One thing I miss during winter is to roam around outdoors on the hunt for edible plants. The foraging season for me starts with wild garlic – its young leaves are among the first green spots that show after the winter. The forests and wetlands appear covered in a soft green carpet and there is the scent of fresh garlic in the air.
However, caution should be exercised with wild garlic as there are a few toxic plants you should not mistake for wild garlic. At least in Austria some slightly similar looking plants (lilies of the valley and especially autmun crocus) are even deadly poisonous which adds thrill to cooking with wild garlic. But let’s not exaggerate – there are some rules to keep you safe when picking wild garlic:
- Wild garlic usually grows in forrests or in wetlands. Don’t pick wild garlic in meadows as this is a common place for autumn crocus.
- Wild garlic leaves have a matt back side.
- They show a single leaf veine in the middle of the leaf that runs from its stem to its tip.
- Wild garlic leaves may grow in groups, but other than autumn crocus or lilies of the valley, each leaf has its own stem.
- And of course the wild garlic leaves smell and taste like garlic.
The most obvious characteristic of wild garlic is of course the scent and taste of fresh garlic. But after picking a few leaves the garlic scent will already be transferred to your fingers and is thus not a safe way of identification any more. It is best to know and check each of the characteristics above for each leave you pick. In case you never picked wild garlic before, I recommend to start in the company of experienced gatherers to get a feeling for the plants.
Wild garlic is a versatile vegetable and an alternative to spinach during spring. I like to use the fresh wild garlic for example in soups and dumplings. But my favourite way to preserve it is pesto.
Recipe | for 2 medium glases | preparation time 15 minutes
- 250g fresh wild garlic
- 200g walnuts or pine nuts
- 150ml olive oil
- 1/2 lemon (juice)
Wash the wild garlic leaves and make sure that all of them are indeed wild garlic. Blanch them by dipping them into boiling water for 10 seconds and remove any excess water using kitchen paper. Blend the wild garlic together with the remaining ingredients in a food processor until well chopped and incorporated.
Store the pesto in glasses (rinse them with boiling water before filling) in the fridge for up to one month. Add a layer of olive oil on top of the pesto in each glas to seal it from air.
I already enjoyed the pesto with noodles as a side dish to some roasted salmon and with gnocchi and dried tomatoes.
Rezept | für 2 mittlere Gläser | Zubereitungszeit 15 min
- 250g frischer Bärlauch
- 200g Walnüsse oder Pinienkerne
- 150ml Olivenöl
- 1/2 Zitrone (Saft)
Die Bärlauchblätter waschen und nochmals sichergehen, dass nur Bärlauchblätter verarbeitet werden. Die Blätter blanchieren, dazu für 10 Minuten in heißes Wasser tunken und danach überschüssiges Wasser mit Küchenpapier abtupfen. Gemeinsam mit den anderen Zutaten in einer Küchenmaschine pürieren, bis alle Zutaten zerkleinert und gut vermischt sind.
Das Pesto in Gläser (kurz mit kochendem Wasser ausspülen) füllen und im Kühlschrank für bis zu einem Monat aufbewahren. Das Pesto in jedem Glas mit einer Olivenölschicht bedecken um es besser zu konservieren.
Das Pesto passt sehr gut zu Gnocchi mit getrockneten Tomaten oder gemeinsam mit Nudeln als Beilage zu Fisch.