It’s a sure sign that spring has sprung when wild garlic begins to appear in abundance! This versatile and pungent plant is a not only an easy plant to find and forage, but it’s also a fantastic ingredient to use in a variety of spring recipes.
As wild garlic grows so plentifully here at Rockliffe Hall, we asked each of our chefs to share their own favourite recipes which we are delighted to share with you.
Foraging for wild garlic is a great family friendly activity, as the leaves are so easy to identify by both their appearance and their smell. To find wild garlic head to any woodland area (from late March onwards), and then follow your nose! It usually carpets woodland floors or river banks, and grows in large clumps.
Read our guide for finding and foraging wild garlic, along with our four recipes below. From a delicious, quick and easy zesty wild garlic and hazelnut pesto, to a wild garlic and nettle soup or a tasty butter which you can store and use for months. Which wild garlic recipes will you be trying?
Matthew Fletcher’s ‘Wild Garlic Pesto’ Recipe
Matthew Fletcher is the head chef in Nu Sana, Rockliffe Hall’s casual eatery that focusses on nourishing dishes that are good for the soul. He says: “A good, well-made wild garlic pesto is a spring classic. Not only is this dish packed full of flavour and nutrients, but it’s so quick and easy to make. Both hazelnuts and wild garlic have anti-inflammatory qualities, and can help regulate blood sugar. Hazelnuts are packed with vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. The parmesan is also a good source of protein and calcium for bone health. Once made up this makes a great accompaniment for salads, for dipping breads or to use as a sauce. Versatile, quick, easy and tasty!”
Keanan Pattison’s ‘Wild Mushroom Tagliatelle with Wild Garlic Pesto’ Recipe
As senior sous chef of The Clubhouse, Keanan has a passion for hearty, wholesome food that tastes good! Sharing this recipe, which is an adaptation from one of the dishes on The Clubhouse menu, he says: “The wild mushroom and hazelnut tagliatelle is one of our guests’ firm favourites when it’s on our menu. I’ve added a few twists to this recipe to create at home, using Matthew’s wild garlic and hazelnut pesto and adding a splash of cream for a touch of indulgence. This recipe is quick and easy to follow, and if you make the pesto ahead you can freeze it for up to 6 months to enjoy year-round.”
For the wild garlic pesto
Follow Matthew’s recipe above for wild garlic and hazelnut pesto.
Martin Horsley’s Wild Garlic & Nettle Soup
Our Resort Executive Chef shares this tasty and delicious soup using not one but two foraged ingredients. Nettles are incredibly abundant, and are considered a superfood due to being a rich source of antioxidants.
Martin says: “Foraging for nettles is best done in spring (while the plants are young) or later in the year once the plants are well established. As a golden rule never forage nettles once they’ve flowered. You’re looking for the young leaves (the very upper leaves of the plant, no larger than 3” wide) and wear gloves to pinch the leaves hard from the tips so you don’t get stung. Once you’ve foraged the leaves check underneath to make sure there is no white spittle present. Transfer the leaves straight in to a pot to wash them well once you’re home to avoid any stings! Cooking the leaves will destroy the stinging formic acid. This tasty @barney_desmazery recipe is one I enjoy making with my family and an easy introduction to foraged soups. Enjoy!”
Steven Lamb’s Wild Garlic Butter
Orangery head chef Steven Lamb is a huge fan of foraging and preserving food. He says: “The UK’s wild garlic season is relatively short-lived. To make the most of it, you can blanch and freeze the leaves (whole or finely chopped) to flavour dishes throughout the year. This wild garlic butter recipe from Great British Chefs is a great one to follow for those who are just starting out with preservation of foraged ingredients. The butter will store in your freezer for months, and can be used to add flavour as a base to pretty much any dish! From seasoning your Easter Sunday roast lamb, to a dollop over spring greens when the first season crops start to come through.”
You can also use a large pestle and mortar instead of a blender if you wish which is how pesto would have traditionally been made; with the ingredients being added and pounded until the correct consistency was reached (the word pesto comes from the Italian word ‘pestare’ which means pounded).
For the pasta
You’ll also need cling film if you choose to roll your butter in to a log, or a large ice cube tray.
Top tips from our chefs:
Before cooking or preparing any foraged ingredient always ensure to thoroughly wash your leaves first and pat dry with a kitchen towel to ensure the leaves are free of any excess moisture.
Always forage responsibly, make sure you only forage what you need from areas that have a plentiful supply and leave enough for wildlife, and avoid damaging habitats.
If you’re foraging wild garlic from the countryside please only take the leaves and flowers. Wild garlic bulbs can be used in cooking, but foraging the bulb means the plant won’t grow back next season – potentially impacting on the wildlife and ecosystem in that area.
Wild garlic can easily be frozen. We recommend finely chopping your leaves before freezing, or even freeze them in to ice cube trays and top up with a splash of water or olive oil to bind the portion together.
Looking to improve your presentation? The pretty white wild garlic flowers (which come later in the season) are edible too, and make a great decorative garnish or ingredient to add to salads.
If you try any of our chef’s recipes this spring then don’t forget to tag Rockliffe Hall in your social media posts. We look forward to seeing your creations!
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We’re delighted to announce that Matthew Fletcher, Head Chef of Nu Sana has been awarded an AA Rosette for culinary excellence.