Thursday 21 May 2009

A Wild Aroma

Ooooh, yummy! I just had to pop in and tell you all that my kitchen is suffused with the most wonderful smell of garlic! Not from a store bought bulb, but fresh and untamed from my garden. I picked a bunch of leaves from the carpet of wild garlic which is growing like a crazy thing in my herb bed a little earlier and left some on my chopping board for a few minutes. The fragrance is all enveloping and I feel quite dizzy – in a nice way – from it!

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!


Holly said...

Oh Yum! I don't have wild garlic...but I may see if I can find it. And, I'd only have one other addition to your wonderful recipe...I think I'd simmer my chicken in chicken broth for a bit more flavor. I can't wait to try this, Tessa!

Oh, and I've posted more pictures today from my travels. Let me know what you think. My journeys pale in comparison to the scope of yours, though!

Bee said...

Tessa, this sounds delicious! I have a rather nice herb garden, but it lacks wild garlic . . . such a pretty white flower, too. It will balance out all of my chives, with their little purple pom poms.

A Cuban In London said...

As a person who has slowly and gradually come to loving cooking over the years there's nothing more beautiful than the sight of a nice, plump, fat garlic clove. One of the reasons why Nigel Slater is my favourite food writer is that he uses a lot of garlic. Nigel writes a weekly column for The Observer magazine and edits The Observer Food Monthly and you can tell that I am a fan.

Your recipe ticks so many of my boxes. I love chicken and mixed with garlic and herbs, it's pure heaven! And you grow in your own patch. That's sublime. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Eleonora Baldwin said...

I'm still on a natural high from opening a special package that I got in the mail today, and then upon visiting your garden/kitchen, I am met by the fragrant waft of delicious garlic wild herb. I take special weekend trips to the Castelli area, where there are many chestnut forests. In the undergrowth, an abundance of mushrooms (which I am too scared to forage) and lovely allium. The flowers sit in a glass vase, the bulbs live in most of my dishes. In Italian it's called AGLIO SELVATICO. I mean, just read my blog title, I have a thing for garlic, be it wild or the regular.

The pesto sounds (and looks) fantastic. Being a total pesto freak, I will have to try your recipe immediately.
Poaching chicken and then flavoring it with the miraculous mix is pure genius.

Thanks again Tessa, I emailed you earlier. Ciao

Debra Keirce said...

I want to come eat at your house!

ceecee said...

Wish I was there as that is right up my alley! I would wear garlic as a crown if I could. Just love it. Everything about that recipe calls to me - the anchovies, the pignoli. Must try to find some wild garlic. I'm on a search for wild strawberries - the long, thin ones. Have never seen those either!
Happy eating!

Amy said...

Yummo!! I just learned to make a cilantro garlic pesto which makes my house smell like the most divine herb garden. My grandmother used to grow fresh garlic and green onions. I still remember the smell of her house. *sigh*

Caroline said...

Oh to be in Europe in the Springtime!! I love the carpets of bluebells and wild garlic at this time of year. Perhaps I'll just be in time to catch a glimpse - we leave for Holland next Friday! Perhaps I'll take your recipe with me too! Lovely post,photos and recipe, thank you!

Val said...

I'm drooling..........

Tessa do you have a tracking number for that parcel for moz? not sure if you got my email...

Beth Kephart said...

You have just answered a question of mine, while wondering about this spring. What, I wondered, were those beautiful white flowers?

And leave it to you to tell me.

pRiyA said...

oh my! wild garlic looks beautiful. i want to try planting just any garlic to see if it will grow into that lovely flower.

Jinksy said...

I'd volunteer to be a 'taster' of that recipe any day!

Grace Albaugh said...

mmmmmmmmmmm. I can just smell and taste this while reading. Thanks for the great dinner idea.

Ces Adorio said...

I was having a conversation with ella about cooking and I mentioned to her without meaning to brag that I think I am a good cook and she replied that she had no doubt I was because passionate poeople are usually good cooks. You know what? I thought about you. I thought about your passion for life for art and cooking and I saw in my mind the image of that delicious tart. I just thought I'd let you know.

Woman in a Window said...

That pesto looks ridiculous. And that is such a good, good thing. (salivating!)

Yoli said...

Oh how delicious!!!! I have such a love of garlic.