With its many health-giving properties, wild garlic makes a versatile ingredient.
Although odourless once eaten, and more subtle in flavour than its cultivated cousin, the wild variety has by far the most health benefits of any other type of garlic. It may lower cholesterol and blood pressure, protect your heart and boost immunity – so it’s no wonder nature provides wild garlic as a gift.
Foraging can be a perilous affair if you have any doubt about what you’re picking, but wild garlic, in all its leafy abundance along the riverbanks this season, is hard to mistake. If when walking in woodland, the waft of garlic alone isn’t enough to convince you, picking a leaf will leave you with no doubt, as it’s the leaves and not bulbs that are the jewels in these woodland-floor crowns.
Leek and cod fritters with puy lentils and wild garlic
Serves 4 as a starter
- 200g puy lentils
- 200g cod fillet
- 2 bay leaves
- 200ml milk
- 2 medium leeks
- 2 spring onions
- Olive oil
- Parsley, 2 handfuls of flatleaf
- 2 eggs
- 4tbspn self-raising flour
- Butter for frying
- 100g Greek yoghurt
- 8 wild garlic leaves
- 1 lemon, juiced
Preheat the oven to 120°C/250°F/gas mark 1/2 and have an ovenproof dish ready. Place the puy lentils into a saucepan with three times their volume of water (or you could use vegetable stock) and simmer for about 25 minutes until cooked.
Put the fish into a pan with the bay leaves, adding enough milk to cover the fish. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes before taking off the heat and allowing to stand, covered, while you prepare the leeks and spring onions.
Slice the leeks vertically to their centre and then spread the layers out under running cold water to wash away any dirt. Slice the leeks and spring onions finely before sautéing until soft in a little olive oil, then remove the fish from the pan with a slotted spoon and place it on a plate to cool.
Put the leeks, spring onions and one handful of chopped parsley into a mixing bowl with the lightly beaten eggs and seasoning. Mix well. Break the fish into the bowl and gently fold the flakes through with a spoon. Add the flour.
Melt the butter in a heavy-based frying pan and add spoonfuls of the mixture, flattening them slightly with the back of a spoon. Turn after a few minutes or until golden brown, cooking them in batches. Move the fritters to your ovenproof dish and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.
In a bowl, mix the Greek yoghurt, wild garlic (roll the leaves up vertically and then use scissors to cut them into shreds), lemon juice, the rest of the chopped parsley and seasoning. Remove the lentils from the heat and stir the yoghurt mixture through, reserving a dollop for each fritter.
Serve the fritters beneath a pile of lentils, scattered with shreds of wild garlic and the extra dollop of Greek yoghurt and grated lemon zest.
More ways with wild garlic
Wild-garlic and tomato tarte tatin
Place cherry tomatoes and shredded wild garlic in a pan with a tablespoon of both butter and brown sugar. Add seasoning, and cook just until the tomatoes start to burst.
Remove them with a slotted spoon and place them in an ovenproof dish, packing them in tightly. Lay puff pastry over the tomatoes, tucking in the edges as you go, before putting the dish in a medium to hot oven for about 25 minutes.
Allow to cool slightly, and then invert the tart onto a plate, cut into slices and serve with salad leaves.
Add these ingredients to a blender for a fabulous wild garlic pesto that can be eaten on pasta and gnocchi, added to soups and casseroles or brushed on meat: 250g wild garlic, 250g parsley, 150g Parmesan, 150g cashew nuts, 100ml olive oil, the juice of one lemon and seasoning.
Melanie Johnson’s warming celeriac soup is delicious.
Melanie Johnson goes foraging for wild garlic.
Melanie Johnson adds some zing with this season’s new spring onions.