This week I am supposed to be head down with my laptop, working on a special project. It is at my own behest, but I was determined to be disciplined about it: “out-of-office” for my emails, alarm set for 6.30, green smoothie to fortify & fill, and then boom, the words would just flow.
My week has been planned to coincide with Andrew and Rachel’s ski trip to France. A vacation week to myself without fear of injury and frostbite. Or getting sucked into the inevitable raclette-fest. It was to be just me, the cat and a head full of ideas. But, as soon as I delivered my family to the airport, I headed into town. Pottering, purchasing (a new-rustic butler table that you see here), nibbling and procrastinating. Then it seemed too late to get started, and I wanted a walk, so I headed down to the local river in search of allium ursinum.
At this time of year, with the temperatures just edging into double digits and the sun gently warming the soil, the scent of wild garlic leaves you in no doubt to their presence. Scattered up the steep, muddy banks the lily-like swards are just pushing through. While others get all excited about daffodils and other spring flowers, cutting them or buying them to fill their homes, I like to make my way down to the river with a pair of scissors and a tatty carrier bag. No doubt I was an object of curiosity, this middle-aged women with her bum in the air, snipping at smelly leaves. But I couldn’t see them, and I didn’t really care anyway. It’s worth the curious looks to come away with a gloriously green and pleasant bag of free food.
Wild garlic – ransoms – are not something everyone can get hold of. But it you are able to gather them yourself (with your no doubt much perter posterior) or grab a bunch at the farmer’s market, do just that. Wild garlic, although wildly whiffy when growing (and sat in your car…) eats much milder than you would imagine. Think garlic on its best behaviour for the Queen: no smelly breath to offend. But, in common with nearly all edible wild food, it is packed – and I mean packed – with a fantastic array of antioxidants that are anti-bacterial, anti-viral, antiseptic. It also lowers blood pressure better than bulb garlic.
Why not forgo imported herbs and bulbs of garlic (which is not at its best just now) to make pots-full of fresh punchy wild garlic pesto? I do mine this way – link complete with terrible photos, a risotto recipe, and more nutrition info. I use a pot of this exuberant sauce in pasta dishes, in dips, to spread on fish before baking, on and in focaccias, etc. But I also I store it in little measured bags for the freezer, using it throughout the year, mourning when I run out.
Within one hour of picking this lot I had put together a quick pasta dish of wilted wild garlic, broccoli, black English walnuts, pecorino Romano and lemon zest (see above). And best olive oil, of course. And some smoked wild Scottish trout might have accidentally fallen in at some point. 🙂
I swear I could feel the goodness of freshly picked greens coursing through my veins. A satisfying and terribly easy meal. I only dared get a small bag on this foray, as the season is only just beginning and I didn’t want to be greedy. Plenty of time for that. And plenty of time to get down to some proper work….
Future posts this week are being scheduled, so don’t think I am being side-tracked again. Although you would probably be right. 🙂
Wild Garlic, Lemon and Ricotta Toast
Leave out the sun-dried tomatoes if you like, but I appreciate the salty-sweet taste of them in this simple recipe. And vegans, I’ve not forgotten you: use cashew cheese, or even white beans, to get a somewhat similar effect to the silky ricotta.
30g washed wild garlic/ransoms, roughly chopped
3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
2 chopped sun-dried tomatoes
100g ricotta cheese or cashew cheese (or white beans)
Squeeze of lemon and a little lemon zest
2-3 pieces of good bread, for toasting (I used Peters Yard levain sourdough – much better than I can make)
Good extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling – optional
Pop the wild garlic in a mini food processor (or chop very finely by hand/use a mezzaluna) and blend until you get it quite fine. Add the pine nuts and sun-dried tomato and pulse until you get a consistency that you like – I like it still with plenty of texture. Stir in the ricotta (or put everything in a small bowl) and the lemon juice and zest. Let the flavours come together while you prepare your toast. Now slather on as you like, drizzling over some grassy, peppery olive oil if you like. And I do like.
Note: This would also make an awesome pasta stir-in sauce with a little olive oil added and loosened with some pasta cooking water.
Where To Find Wild Garlic: moist woodland, by rivers, in green urban spaces (often huddled up with emerging nettles). Lily of the valley looks rather similar and is often intermingled, but is not edible. The leaves of wild garlic are much broader and smell garlicky (obvs) rather than grassy. Lily of the valley will also have little bulblets, which the wild garlic does not. If in doubt, take a wild food guidebook or check out this app. You can also find it cheaply at farmer’s markets from now until later in April – about £1-2 for a 100g bag. And btw, the pretty white flowers are edible too and make a gorgeous natural garnish for this toast thingy as well as salads and soups.
34 thoughts on “Wild Garlic, Lemon & Ricotta Toast – A healthy St Patrick’s Day recipe”
Your pictures are so beautiful! Thanks for sharing!
Beautiful photography and delicious fresh recipe!
This looks amazing!!! I bet it’d be great with chickpeas, too!
Yrs, I bet it would. Any legume would be enhanced with this stirred through. Great suggestion!
Wild garlic sounds so exotic. I love eating the tops of regular garlic when in season and mix them with millet flour rotis loaded with ghee. Super delicious and yummy! I wonder if I can find the wild garlic at a local farmers market here in the States I feel like I need some ricotta toast now 😉 thanks for the recipe.
Now that sounds delicious!! I’ve tried growing garlic but it doesn’t like my soil (or maybe I’m just rubbish at cultivating it!).
This looks delish, Kellie! And I love foraged food. What would you suggest replacing the wild garlic with if it isn’t handy?
Hmm. I guess a combination of baby spinach and a half clove of garlic. Wild garlic is much more subtle, despite the pong! I adore it and am always sad when it disappears for the year. It’s best when picked early in the spring, before the flowers have opened. I hope you find some!
Ohh garlic and lemon and pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes… so many of my favourites all in one! Love this!
I’ve recently gotten a little obsessed with ricotta, so mixing it with my favourite wild garlic and piling it on toast sounds just about perfect. Beautiful recipe and beautiful shots too! Now to find somewhere to forage wild garlic in SE London – that isn’t a farmers market….
Can’t wait to make this. Looks fab.
I never know where to pick any wild garlic near me… there *must* be some in Epping Forest surely?
I love this dish. I’m going to be making some ricotta today so I can try your recipe.
sounds delicious and yes I would definitely keep the sundried tomatoes in!
Looks beautiful and so wholesome too!
That looks utterly divine Kellie 🙂 We have masses of the tri-cornered leek variety of wild garlic growing in our hedges, and I can’t get enough of the stuff at this time of year. Happy Spring!
Lovely. Im not going to ‘ask’ you a question cos I dont want to distract you from your mission so I will ‘tell’ you instead, haha, you are coming to StA with me soon to pick wild garlic in Mums wild garden 🙂
Yes ma’am! Week after next or so? Miss R still off next week but after that, yes please! Tell her not to Cut any nettles that might be growing either!
So many lovely images. I need to see how our back garden crop is doing, time to harvest some, I hope!
Woww reading your post is making me nostalgic. when I was little and go with my bestie to search wild ginger roots. Thanks for such an awesome recipe!
Oh wow – what a bounty of wild garlic! You are so lucky to have a supply nearby… I hear you about odd stares when one goes foraging – when I was out gathering wild rocket under the railway line 2 summers ago, hubby nearly died of mortification ;o) Love this toast, and the pasta dish!
I love your toast, looks tasty and refreshing! I need to try this recipe asap!
Reblogged this on mayur161 and commented:
I have a patch of wild garlic i planted years ago and now we just have it on tap or a few weeks. Love this one K.
What a lovely refreshing recipe! Accompanied by breathtaking photos 😊
Delicious and so pretty. Would love this for my breakfast. *sigh*
The egg looks so yummy…
I feel like that about taboulleh – the goodness of the intense greenery coursing through my veins. A garlic lover in all its forms, I can practically inhale the gorgeous aroma from the screen.
I think I need to find some wild garlic in Melbourne.
Being a garlic addict this is surely the next step for added flavour.
Your recipes look and sound great.