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.”

Matthew Fletcher’s ‘Wild Garlic Pesto’ Recipe

Ingredients

  • 100g wild garlic
  • 50g parmesan grated (use an alternative to make this dish vegetarian if you wish)
  • 50g hazelnuts toasted
  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  • Thoroughly wash your wild garlic and place in a food processor.
  • Blitz until fairly well broken up.
  • Next add your parmesan (or vegetarian / vegan equivalent) and blitz further, this will help to break down the garlic leaves.
  • Finally add your toasted hazelnuts. Once the nuts are added you will want to have your olive oil to hand; turn the machine back on, and add olive oil to your desired consistency
  • Add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

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).

Keanan Pattison’s ‘Wild Mushroom Tagliatelle with Wild Garlic Pesto’ Recipe

For the pasta

  • 300g fresh tagliatelle pasta
  • 80g wild mushrooms (we recommend buying from your supermarket or greengrocer unless you’re an experienced mushroom hunter)
  • 1 tbs Olive oil
  • 1 tbs Single cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmesan shavings and wild garlic flowers (optional) to garnish

Method

  • Add the pasta, with a tablespoon of olive oil added, to a pan of water, season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil.
  • Meanwhile, wash and chop the mushrooms (discarding any tough stems) and add to a large frying pan with a splash of olive oil and cook until the mushrooms release their juices and start to brown.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, drain the pan (saving a little of the pasta water to one side) and add the cooked pasta to the frying pan with the mushrooms, turning heat off the frying pan.
  • Stir in the pesto and a splash of cream.
  • Depending on the consistency, you might want to add more cream or a splash of the pasta water to make the sauce creamier.
  • Taste and add further seasoning if required.
  • Garnish with parmesan shavings (and wild garlic flowers if you have any) and serve

Martin Horsley’s Wild Garlic & Nettle Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 25g butter
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 leek, finely diced
  • 2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 small potato, peeled and diced
  • 2l good-quality vegetable stock
  • 300g young nettle leaves
  • 200g wild garlic leaves (keep any flowers if you have them)
  • 3 tbsp milk

Method

  • Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan.
  • Add the onion, leek, celery, carrot, potato and a good pinch of salt, and stir until everything is well coated.
  • Cover and sweat gently for 15-20 mins, stirring every so often to make sure that the vegetables don’t catch on the bottom of the pan.
  • Pour in the stock and simmer for 10 mins.
  • Add the nettles in several batches, stirring, then add the wild garlic leaves and simmer for 2 mins.
  • Remove from the heat and blend using a stick blender or tip into a blender. Return to the heat and stir through the milk, then taste for seasoning. Ladle into bowls and drizzle over a little extra oil, then top with a few wild garlic flowers, if you have them.

Steven Lamb’s Wild Garlic Butter

Ingredients

  • 40g wild garlic, finely chopped
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • Flakes of sea salt

You’ll also need cling film if you choose to roll your butter in to a log, or a large ice cube tray.

Method

  • Soften the butter so it still holds its shape but dents when pressed.
  • Wash the leaves thoroughly and squeeze dry in a cloth or kitchen towel.
  • Chop the leaves as finely as you can – use a very sharp knife, as a blunt one will mash the leaves in to the board; compromising the flavours and textures.
  • Add the finely chopped leaves to the softened butter, along with a good pinch of salt and mix well to distribute evenly.
  • Taste and add more seasoning if required.
  • The butter is now ready to use straight away. If you’d like to preserve the butter you can either distribute in to large ice cube trays (once frozen through you can pop the cubes in to a bag or tray within the freezer for quick and easy access); or follow the steps below to create a neat cling film roll or baton:
  • Roll out about 40 cm of cling film on to a workbench and smooth over with a cloth so it’ is completely flat, and then repeat the process so you have two layers.
  • Neatly spoon out the soft butter into a log / baton (around 3cm in diameter) in the centre of the bottom quarter of the cling film.
  • Carefully lift up the film from the bottom and wrap very neatly and tightly around the butter baton and then roll up the rest of the cling film around it.
  • Cut off the excess ends of the cling film. Your butter is now ready to store in the freezer.
  • To use the butter, take it out of the freezer 10 minutes before you need it. Slice off however many portions you need, then return the rest to the freezer. Unwrap the coins of butter from the cling film – they are now ready to use.

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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