Wild Garlic Season – Ramsons Relish

Ramsons form fragrant spring carpets in shady woodland areas at this time of year. The origins of many place names such as Ramsey Common, Ramsdale and Ramsbottom are derived from this ancient word. The plant is related to chives, and their botanic name, Allium Ursinum, contains the latin word for bear (ursus) as bears are extremely keen on them and dig up the bulbs with enthusiasm. Wild Garlic is easy to find in woods, just follow the aroma of garlic in the air and look for their shiny ovate leaves and white balls of little star-shaped flowers.The leaves taste much milder than bulb garlic and can be eaten raw. The flowers are also edible, have a peppery flavour and are very tasty when fried in batter as tempura.

Seasonal and delicious, Ramsons Relish has many uses –

Sandwiches – An excellent addition to cucumber, chicken or cheese sandwiches

Pasta – use the condiment like pesto

Smoked salmon or pan-fried fish – an excellent side sauce

Mayo – Mix it into fresh mayonnaise and use as a dip

Rice – Wild garlic risotto

Mash –  Mix the relish into mashed potato.

Soup – Use the relish as a drizzle

Salad – Ramsons Relish makes an excellent addition to vinaigrette

Scrambled eggs – stirred into creamy scrambled eggs, divine.

Potato Frittata – one the side, one of the best

A pathway of wild garlic at Buckland Abbey

 

 

Wild Garlic Soup

A pathway of wild garlic at Buckland Abbey

A pathway of wild garlic at Buckland Abbey, nr Yelverton

This is the greenest of spring soups that you can also enrich with chicken stock, cream, or yoghurt if you wish. I just like to keep it simple. The trick is to add the garlic leaves at the end, AFTER cooking up the potato in the stock. It keeps the flavour fresh. Last year I wrote up the recipe for wild garlic flower tempura which looks beautiful served on the side (with a little chilli dip). If you don’t have a food processor or blender, a potato masher and a chopping knife does the job just as well. The soup is good served hot or cold.Image

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped finely

450g potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

500ml Marigold vegetable stock

3 generous handfuls of wild garlic leaves

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

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In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, sauté the onion in the butter until softened but not coloured.

Add the vegetable stock and potatoes and bring to the boil.

Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked.

Blend the soup in a food processor.

Now add the raw garlic leaves and blend again until the leaves have melded into the soup.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Other things to do with wild garlic:

Pesto – Whizz the leaves with pine nuts, grated Parmesan and olive oil to make pesto. Or add pancetta, egg to make a variation of wild garlic carbonara.

Rice – Wild garlic risotto

Mash – Chop the leaves and mix them into mashed potato.

Fish – Wrap the leaves around fillets of buttered trout and bake gently in the oven. They also work well with smoked fish.

Mayo – Chop the leaves into sour cream or fresh mayonnaise and use as a dip

Salad – Use whole leaves in salads and decorate with the flowers.

Sandwiches – Add the leaves to cheese or ham and mustard sandwiches.

Spinach – steam with spinach, they can be a bit watery steamed alone.

Puree – puree with oil and use as a drizzle or dressing.

Scrambled eggs – chopped into creamy scrambled eggs, divine.

Butter – flavour butter with chopped leaves.

Frittata – one of the best

Hummus – tahini, chickpeas, wild garlic

Wild Garlic Flower Tempura

DSC_0026_5Wild garlic, also called ramsons or wood garlic, form fragrant spring carpets in woodland areas. We picked bagfuls yesterday and then made a feast of garlic flower fritters followed by garlic pesto pasta. They are easy to find, just follow the smell of garlic in the air and look for their shiny ovate leaves and white balls of little star-shaped flowers.

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Wild Garlic Flower Tempura

The plant is related to chives, and the leaves are much milder than bulb garlic and can be eaten raw. The flowers are also edible and have a peppery flavour.  For these fritters, I like to enrich my batter with a bit of coconut milk but you can make the batter without it.  Wild garlic has a short season, so we like to make the most of them. I’ve listed more ways to use them below this recipe.

Tempura paste  

150g plain flour

100ml coconut milk (use water if you prefer)

100ml ice cold water

1 egg

1 tsp salt

a dash of soy sauce

Heat vegetable oil in a wok or deep pan to sizzling hot while you mix the batter.

Just before serving, beat the egg thoroughly in a bowl, add the coconut milk and the iced water and sift in the flour, salt and soy. Stir gently, then dip the flower heads one or two at a time into the batter.  Shake off excess batter.

Wear rubber gloves or an oven glove, hold the end of the stem and dip the flower head in the hot oil (being careful 180C!) until lightly browned. Remove to a paper towel to drain for a moment. Then place on a platter and serve with dipping bowls of soy, sweet chilli sauce or garlic mayo.

Wild Garlic pasta pesto

Wild Garlic pasta pesto

Seasonal and delicious, here are some other ideas on how to eat wild garlic:

Pesto – Whizz the leaves with pine nuts, grated Parmesan and olive oil to make pesto. Or add pancetta, egg  to make  a variation of wild garlic carbonara.

Rice – Wild garlic risotto

Mash – Chop the leaves and mix them into mashed potato.

Fish – Wrap the leaves around fillets of buttered trout and bake gently in the oven. They also work well with smoked fish.

Mayo – Chop the leaves into sour cream or fresh mayonnaise and use as a dip

Salad – Use whole leaves in salads and decorate with the flowers.

Sandwiches – Add the leaves to cheese or ham and mustard sandwiches.

Soup – Wild Garlic and potato soup.

Spinach – steam with spinach they can be a bit watery steamed alone.

Puree – puree with oil and use as a drizzle or dressing.

Scrambled eggs – chopped into creamy scrambled eggs, divine.

Butter – flavour butter with chopped leaves.

Frittata – one of the best

Hummus – tahini, chickpeas, wild garlic

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Keep a jar of lovely green pesto in the fridge to extend the season

Cream cheese – chop into cream cheese, reform and wrap the cheese in the leaves. Slice.

Bluebells and wild garlic

Bluebells and wild garlic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The origins of many place names such as Ramsey Common, Ramsdale and Ramsbottom are derived from this old English word, Ramson and were named for their abundant growth of wild garlic.  It’s a sign of our times  that so many are now covered in concrete.