Taking walks around the Haute Savoie are truly wonderful. The breathtaking views, fresh air, mountain scenes and tranquility of the countryside, coupled with the wildlife, flora and fauna make walking in this part of France a ‘must do’ when visiting this region.
Some of this said wildlife, flora and fauna is not only edible but delicious. I’ll work my way through some recipes on my blog in the future but having found wild garlic growing prolifically on my dog walk in the last few weeks, I decided to pick* some and see what I could make.
Wild garlic or Allium ursinum to use its Latin name is a wild relative of the chive family native to Europe and Asia. It is also known as bears garlic, wood garlic, ramsons, buckrams and broad-leaved garlic. The latin name is due to the brown bear liking for this plant and digging up the bulbs. They are also a favourite of the wild boar known as the ‘Sanglier’ in France. The Sanglier features on the Chasse menu in the autumn during hunting season here.
The wild garlic plants grow in woodlands and flower in the spring before the deciduous trees have their leaves. The air in early spring is filled with their garlic-like scent. The leaves are similar to the lily of the valley and the flower heads are a round ball, but only contain flowers no bulbils.
The leaves are edible and the flowers and bulbs are tasty too. The leaves can be used as a salad, boiled as a vegetable like spinach, used in soups, or in pesto in place of the basil. There is a Cornish Yarg cheese which has a rind coated in wild garlic leaves.
Recipe for Wild Garlic Pesto
2 or 3 handfuls of wild garlic leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
50g pine nuts (you could try any other nuts hazelnuts would be nice)
75g freshly grated or roughly chopped parmesan
Whizz up the wild garlic leaves, pine nuts and parmesan in a food processor or crush in a pestle and mortar, season with black pepper and add the olive oil to form a thick paste.
I drizzled the pesto over a soup, also tossed it through pasta and spread it onto french toasts and topped with sun dried tomatoes. Pesto is the most versatile and tasty ingredient to jazz up many dishes. The flowers make a great garnish.
*Always pick wild flowers and plants responsibly, don’t take the roots or bulbs and take note if you are in a conservation area and adhere to the rules so that we can all enjoy nature for years to come.
all photos are copyright ©Caro Blackwell