We’re so lucky in Gloucestershire to have many wildlife-rich and green areas close by. Spring is almost here, and bringing with it the first shoots of spring leaves. Wild Garlic and Nettles are two great ingredients which are easy to find growing in the woods and fields around this time of year, and can be made into yummy vegan dishes.
Also known as Ramsons – Is a wild relative of chives with pungent bright green garlic-flavoured leaves. It grows vigorously in woodlands and other shaded areas and when walking in woods carpeted with Wild Garlic leaves in Spring, the garlicky aroma will fill the air. It has beautiful white star-shaped flowers which are also edible, as are the bulbs. Wild Garlic can be eaten raw, added to soups or stir-frys, and be made into pesto. Be aware that Wild garlic leaves can be easily mistaken for Lily of the Valley, which is poisonous, so always be careful and crush the leaves to check for the garlic smell.
Wild Garlic Pesto
3 large handfuls of Wild Garlic Leaves (washed and dried)
1/2 cup walnuts
1 shallot or small onion
juice of half a lemon
1 clove garlic
3 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
1 tsp salt
Blend it all up until it’s a smooth-ish bright green paste. Taste and add a little more salt or lemon juice if required.
Serve with pasta or vegan gnocci, spread on bread with hummus or use as a dip. Keeps in a jar in the fridge for about a week. Good for keeping vampires at bay!
Stinging nettles seem to grow everywhere. They have a long history of culinary and medicinal uses, including being used as a remedy for arthritis. Nettles are rich in vitamin A, C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium.
They are also very tasty, having a flavour somewhat similar to spinach, with a little perfumed floral hint to them.
Don’t be put of by their spikes, pick them using rubber gloves. Luckily for us they do not sting after they’ve been cooked or soaked in water.
Velvety Nettle Soup
( a Rose Elliot Recipe)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion peeled and chopped
1 baking potato
4oz nettle tops
1L Vegetable Stock
Salt, pepper and nutmeg
Squeeze of lemon juice
vegan cream – optional
• Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and potatoes, stir, then cover and cook for 5 minutes.
• Add the nettles, cover and cook for a further 5 minutes, then add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
• Blend in a food processor or with a stick blender until completely smooth.
• Season with salt, pepper, grated nutmeg and a little squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavour – it needs strong seasoning.
• Delicious served either hot or chilled, with a swirl of vegan cream.