Although it’s perfectly possible to eat the root in the same way as ‘normal’ garlic, the appeal of wild garlic is in its fragrant and aromatic leaves; it tastes like it smells, which is mild and perfumed and borderline chive.
Use it in the same way as other green herbs and treat it as you would young spinach leaves or basil; it can be eaten raw like a salad leaf, but avoid over chopping it which will bruise it, and only add it towards the end of cooking to retain its impact.
Pick wild garlic by nipping off the leaves near the base of the stem leaving behind the root for next year and always, always, wash the leaves before using them. Eight to ten average sized leaves will chop into enough to flavour a portion of risotto, double that to make a serving of pesto for two. It will keep in the fridge for a week after picking although it will start to lose its pungency as time goes by. Keep it in a bag, inside an airtight tub to contain its aroma.
Wild garlic pairs with the same sort of flavours you’d put with chive, such as hard cheeses, egg, white fish, salmon, cream, chicken, cauliflower, potato, fresh cheese and curds.
Pesto - Use in exactly the same way as making a classic basil pesto, although give the leaves a quick chop before adding them to the blender so they chop, rather than tear.
Salads - tear the leaves or use the smaller younger ones whole in salads; Niçoise style with potato, quails’ eggs, tomatoes and olives… or with cold flaked salmon, beetroot and sour cream.
Stuff a couple of handfuls into the cavity of a roast chicken.
Chop finely and scatter generously over the soft unset insides of a cheesy omelette before folding over.
Add interest to a tart; boil cubed potato until soft, fry bacon lardons until crispy, roll and slice a dozen leaves to stir into a quiche custard, pour over the filling ingredients and top with brie.
Garnish a silky-smooth cauliflower soup with a hefty pinch and top with parmesan shavings and a few drops of truffle oil for a surprisingly decadent starter.
Make a simple pasta sauce; heat 150ml of cream with 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, add a portion of frozen peas to the hot cream. Cook your pasta of choice until al dente, drain and add to the hot cream sauce, throw in a good handful of the chopped wild garlic.
Make a salsa verde to pair with pan-fried fish, lamb, or calves liver even; roughly chop two dozen leaves and add to a food blender along with half a dozen mint leaves, a chopped clove of garlic, a tablespoon of rinsed capers, 2 anchovy fillets, and two tablespoons of white wine vinegar. Use the pulse button to chop roughly, dribble in 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil through the feeder tube until you have a rough paste.
Chop finely and fold into mayonnaise (preferably homemade) to accompany some hot, buttered Jersey Royals, or use in the same way to score big points with a seasonal potato salad.