Chicken and wild garlic spanakopita

Fragrant wild garlic is easy and tasty to use, reveals our kitchen garden cook.

I was walking beside a river in Scotland and came across an abundance of fragrant wild garlic. I couldn’t resist picking a few handfuls and taking it back to the house to turn into something for our lunch. The recipe for my version of a Greek spanakopita is the result and, if I may say so myself, it went down rather well.

Chicken and wild garlic spanakopita (serves 6)

1 onion, peeled and diced
A splash of olive oil
250g chicken fillet, finely diced
240g fresh baby spinach, finely chopped
200g wild garlic, finely chopped
250g ricotta
75g Parmesan, grated
25g sunflower seeds
25g pumpkin seeds (plus a few more to sprinkle over at the end)
50g pine nuts, lightly toasted
Handful fresh basil, chopped
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
125g butter, melted
540g filo pastry (2 packs of 270g)

Fry the onion in a splash of olive oil and cook until soft and translucent but not browned, then transfer to a large bowl. Fry the chicken in the same pan, season well and cook until just lightly browned and transfer to the bowl with the onion. Wilt the chopped spinach and wild garlic in the pan. This stage needs to be followed carefully, because alternative methods of cooking the spinach (such as microwaving in the bag) will mean the spinach is too wet and will spoil the pastry. Put the wilted greens into the large bowl.

Add the ricotta, Parmesan, seeds, nuts, herbs, zest, juice and seasoning and combine. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until ready to use. This can be made up to 24 hours in advance, but bring it to room temperature before using it.

Recommended videos for you

Preheat your oven to 180 ̊C/350 ̊F/gas mark 4. Melt the butter— this will take about 45 seconds in the microwave. Place one sheet of pastry on a clean surface and brush with butter. The remaining sheets should be placed in single overlapping layers a few inches down the exposed sheet. Continue to layer and butter the sheets until you have a long line, reserving two sheets. Spoon the mixture evenly all the way along the pastry and then fold over the sides neatly so you have a long sausage. Fold the reserved sheets over it to conceal all the layer joins and then fold the ends over, curl an end into itself and twist into a spiral. Brush with melted butter and scatter with a small handful of pumpkin seeds.

Use a couple of spatulas to place the filo spiral on a greased baking tray and cook for about 30 minutes or until golden. Serve immediately, with lightly dressed salad leaves.

More ways with wild garlic

Wild Garlic SideSpicy red-lentil and wild-garlic soup (left)
In a large saucepan, combine a chopped onion, 2 red chillies, 150g red lentils, 1 diced carrot, 1 tin tomatoes, 750ml chicken stock, 200g wild garlic, a splash of olive oil, a handful each of parsley and basil and seasoning. Simmer until cooked, then purée with a stick blender. Serve with a splash of cream and scatter with fresh herbs.

Prawn and wild-garlic biryani
Dice a large onion and fry in a little butter. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of turmeric, curry powder and cinnamon and add 200g prawns. Stir in 75g curry paste and 150g chopped wild garlic and mix well. Scatter the mixture with 300g basmati rice, stir well and pour in 750ml of vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and simmer until the rice is tender and the stock absorbed. Scatter with freshly chopped coriander and serve.