Wild garlic is a beauteous thing to behold. First come the luscious and drooping leaves then a burst of white flowers indicates the end of the growing season. It is edible at all stages of this growth but, unlike domestic garlic, it’s the leaves, rather than the bulbs, that are prized. The bulbs are delicious, too, but very small and fiddly. The leaves and flowers make a great addition to salads or – as they have traditionally been used for centuries – as a garnish for cheese sandwiches. In fact, some cheeses available here in England are wrapped in the leaves as they mature, giving them a tangy, garlicky edge.
The taste of wild garlic leaves is very similar to the domestic bulb, but not quite as hot on the palate. That said, wild garlic has many (and some say more) of the same health-giving properties. If you have never tried it before, give it a whirl. If you don’t have it in your garden, look for wild garlic shoots at your local farmer’s market, or growing next to the bluebells in a wood.
This is what we’re having for supper tonight – it’s as easy and quick as it’s possible to be so I thought I’d share it with you.
Poached chicken with wild garlic pesto
4 chicken breasts
For the pesto
2 anchovy fillets
2 good sprigs of fresh basil
50g wild garlic leaves
1/4 tsp pepper
50g pine nuts
1 tbsp grated parmesan
100ml olive oil
You can do this with pestle and morter or use a blender, whichever tickles your fancy. Roughly chop the garlic leaves, basil and anchovies and then whizz in a blender - or pound with your pestle - with the parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil and pepper until blended - but not too smooth. Add a dollop more of the olive oil if it’s too thick. Then refrigerate until needed.
Place the chicken in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer gently, partly covered, for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Drain, remove the skin, thickly slice and drizzle with the wild garlic pesto. Serve with small boiled potatoes or buttered noodles. Heavenly!