If you go down to the woods today you're in for a big surprise. And if you do have a walk around any British woodland at this time of the year you may be really surprised to have your nasal passages hit with the heavy smell of mild onion.
It is right now that you will find wild garlic, or ramsons, growing in thick patches all over our green and pleasant land. Recognisable by their wide thick leaves and depending on the time of year, a cluster of small white flowers, they are the easiest to harvest and most widely available free food you will find.
Milder and more onion-like than the garlic widely available in stores, ramsons are perfect for injecting subtle flavour into food. Try a bunch of them stuffed into a fish before baking, or chopped raw and thrown into a simple pasta dish or a salad. I like to bash them up in a pestle and mortar with walnuts or hazelnuts for a rough pesto or sharpening with capers and mustard for a green sauce to go with pasta, fish or a good steak.
Make the most of this wonderful spring wild food. They aren't difficult to find and if you have never harvested wild food before, it will inspire you to take your first steps in becoming a true wild food forager. Just keep an eye out for those bears.
Wild Garlic and Hazelnut Sauce
Makes a small jar full - will keep for 3 days in the fridge
4 handfuls of fresh wild garlic leaves
2 handfuls of hazelnuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan
1 tsp English mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp cider vinegar
25g Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese, grated
100ml extra virgin olive oil or rapeseed oil
Salt and pepper
1 - In a pestle and mortar or a food processor, bash the wild garlic and hazelnuts to a rough pulp.
2 - Stir in the remaining ingredients and taste for seasoning. Seal in a sterilised jar.
3 - Serve stirred into warm pasta, with cooked fish or steak.