Spring is springing vivaciously, verdantly, vividly.
I love Spring, almost as much as I love Autumn; its all about the edges of things for me. The edge of Winter as it graciously gives way to the bounding, lively greenness of Spring. Those crisp mornings where you can smell the life around you shaking off the frost and stretching towards the sun.
As I have rather a lot of time on my hands at the moment I have taken to rambling about the countryside with the dog, searching (as I do any time I go for a wander to be honest) for edible treats along the way. Much of what I’m hoping to find falls into the ‘Spring Greens’ category, things like Wild Garlic, Three-cornered Leeks, Dandelions and new growth Nettles.
Wild Garlic Pesto
A few good handfuls of fresh wild garlic, olive or rapeseed oil, salt, pepper, hard cheese (sheep, goat or Parmesan), walnuts (optional)
Wash all the wild garlic thoroughly, ensuring there are no criters hiding in the leaves! Use a salad spinner to get all the excess moisture off then leave to dry on paper towels or clean t-towels. Chop the leaves very finely and put them into a large bowl. Stir in a good glug of oil until a pesto-y consistency is reached. Grate the cheese into the bowl, add seasoning, stirring well. If using the walnuts, heat them gently in a pan until aromatic and then bash into small pieces before stirring in. Put the mix into sterilised jars and use within one week. It is wonderful on pasta, as a salad dressing if thinned out with more oil or even spread on a little toasted ciabatta as a garlic bread style accompaniment.
Nettle tops, wild garlic, three-cornered leek, pasta, olive oil, salt and pepper
A quick, nutritious pasta can be made with these lovely fresh spring greens, but if you can’t get out into the woods today, try it with the cabbage spring greens, spring onions and crushed garlic instead.
Cook the pasta as per instructed on the packet (or make your own!!). Rinse the nettle tops and wild garlic in a colander, again ensuring there are no wee beasties clinging to the leaves (slugs mainly…). You want about twice as much nettle to wild garlic. Put the leaves into a saucepan cover with a lid and put over a low heat until the leaves are wilted. Chop the three-cornered leek (pictured above – like a snow drop but with a green stripe on each petal and smelling of onions) into small slices, like you would a spring onion. Retain the flowers for a garnish, they give the most refreshing little pops of flavour when you bite them! Stir the wilted greens through the cooked pasta with plenty of olive oil. Serve into bowls and then sprinkle the slices and flowers of the leeks over the top. Add some Parmesan shavings if you want, serve with crisp white wine and avoid contact with vampires for a few days….