Fried mushrooms and wild garlic on lovely, buttered toast
Wild garlic is in season – and in abundance – and adds flavour to so many things
Wild garlic season is here and it is growing in abundance this year. Once you start to think of wild garlic as being like spinach or a leafy herb, it’s quite easy to find many ways to use it. I love to finely shred it and add to stir-fries, or sauté it and add to an omelette with goat’s cheese. Layers of wilted wild garlic in a lasagne are amazing, or you could add a few leaves to leek and potato soup.
For Easter this year, I’m blitzing up handfuls of wild garlic leaves with rosemary, olive oil and salt to make a flavour-packed paste to baste a leg of lamb.
Its intense green garlic flavour is just perfect for making pesto. I usually make it with half basil and half wild garlic leaves initially for my kids to adjust. It’s amazing drizzled over pizza, or just spread it on toast for the best garlic bread. It’s delicious over prawns or mussels too.
Every year we make the trip to a leafy, shady wood nearby and pick just enough to make a few jars of pesto so we can preserve this seasonal treat. The pesto freezes well in little ice cube trays – just pop out of the trays and store in a ziploc then add to soups and stews as you need them.
This year I’ll be dusting off my dehydrator to dry out some leaves too. This can be done by placing the leaves on a rack in a low oven or on trays of a dehydrator. Crush the leaves once they’re fully dry and crisp, and store in a jar for adding a wild garlic touch to everything you make. You can also mix the bright green powder with sea salt for a gorgeous flavoured salt.
Look for wild garlic in damp, shady woodlands. Pick healthy, wide green leaves and only pick what you need. It is very often confused with three-cornered leeks. They have thin, tough green leaves whereas the wild garlic leaves are wide, waxy and soft. The smell will be distinctively garlicky, as opposed to leek or onion. Pick through the leaves and wash them well, I find it easiest to dry them in a salad spinner as the leaves remain unbruised. Store in a paper bag in the fridge until ready to use.
Garlic and mushrooms are a fantastic combination. I love mushrooms for breakfast or brunch, adding a poached egg or smoked salmon for extra protein. It makes a really quick and easy light dinner too.
Sauteed mushrooms and wild garlic
1 tsp butter
400g mixed mushrooms
2 handfuls wild garlic leaves
Half a lemon
2 thick slices of good-quality bread
Salt and black pepper
Butter for toast
Wipe the mushrooms clean and slice them quite thickly; you still want them to have some body once cooked. Melt a teaspoon of butter in a wide frying pan over a medium heat. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper and cook for five minutes until the mushroom slices start to turn golden at the edges.
Remove the stems from the wild garlic and roughly chop the leaves. Add the chopped leaves to the pan and stir well to combine. The leaves will wilt once they hit the heat. Sauté for a minute or so before squeezing the lemon juice over. Remove from the heat and taste. You may need to add a little more salt or black pepper.
Meanwhile, toast the bread and butter it on one side. Cut each piece in half and place on a plate. Pile the sauteed mushroom and wild garlic on top and serve right away.