Vampires and Wild Garlic Breath

I guess everyone is already getting fed up with wild garlic, aka ramsons (allium ursinum), but it is one of the most available and exciting forageable ingredients around at the moment in Pembrokeshire. To preserve wild garlic put 500g clean dry leaves in a food processor with 500ml olive oil and blitz. Store in lidded jars in your fridge where it will last for ages (I have some from last year which I am still using). Every time I take some out I top up the jar with a little more olive oil. This garlic flavoured oil is useful on its own to drizzle a little emerald colour onto salads, soups, etc. 

Remember that you can eat the whole plant, the bulbs, flowers, seeds and stem as well as the leaves and if any of you are suffering from vampire problems wild garlic will keep them away. Of course, if you eat lots of it, there is the distinct probability that it will keep everyone else away too. We once had a young girl out on our hedgerow forage who bragged to her Grannie how much she loved wild garlic. For the entire walk she chomped on the leaves so that, at the end of the walk, her chin, mouth and teeth were so disgustingly green that no one, including her Gran, would stand close to her…

Wild Garlic has been used to treat asthma and other respiratory disorders and during the Middle Ages the herb was instrumental in treating cholera and in preventing the plague. Fresh juice from the small bulbs was also an important wound dressing and they were chewed to aid breathing and to treat digestion and intestinal gas. 

This altogether stinky plant has regained popularity and it is always wonderful to see the bright green leaves coming through to herald the onset of spring. As the season wears on these plants, which favour damp and woody areas, produce beautiful white star-like flowers and can often carpet a woodland floor along with the bluebell. Together they make a wonderful sight although the smell of garlic overpowers everything else!

1 aubergine

4 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons tahini

2-3 tablespoons wild garlic preserved in olive oil

Seasalt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional) to garnish

Preheat oven to 200 C / Gas mark 6. Lightly grease a baking tray. 

Cut aubergine in half and place cut-side down on oiled baking tray. Roast for approximately 30 minutes or until soft. 

Cool slightly then scoop flesh into food processor along with other ingredients (except optional sesame seeds) and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Chill in fridge before serving. 

Knob of butter

1 medium onion, chopped 

1 large potato, peeled & chopped

750ml chicken stock

500g wild garlic leaves

100ml double cream

Seasalt & pepper

Melt butter, add onion and cook until soft but not browned.

Add potatoes and seasoning and stir, then add chicken stock.

Simmer until potatoes are almost cooked.

Add wild garlic and continue to cook for a few minutes more.

Blitz soup to blend, add cream and reheat slowly

(Serves 4)

Three cornered leek (allium triquetrum) which can be substituted for the wild garlic.

2 heaped tablespoons ramsons leaves

1/2 pint mayonnaise

1 heaped tablespoon parsley

Rinse and dry parsley and ramsons, then chop finely and stir into mayonnaise.

Chill in fridge.

Use with fish, or salads.