Follow your nose and you may just find free food to be had in damp woods and shaded river banks in Britain. But get out there quick. This silky leaved wild herb – the darling of nature-inspired chefs at this time of year – won’t be around for much longer.
The pretty white star-shaped flowers are almost in bloom, signalling the near-end of spring’s really rather delicious stand-out wild herb. Growing prolifically in lush clumps of cool green, wild garlic is still growing up here in Scotland, although the longer the season stretches out the milder the aroma. I have been consistently gathering it throughout spring in the adjacent woods, as well as a nearby river, but if you have a farmer’s market you should still be able to get a bag or two for a pound or two. In the US, you probably call this ransoms, or bear garlic: same thing – more or less.
I have one or two more wild garlic recipes to share. But if wild garlic eludes you and you wish to try these recipes, young spinach and a small clove of garlic is a decent approximation. Incidentally, wild garlic smells much more pungent than it tastes. And, although it has the same anti-bacterial, anti-fungal action, and blood pressure and cholesterol lowering properties as bulb garlic, it leaves the breath untainted.
If you are still able to get a good supply of wild garlic, use it up to make pesto (no need for basil or garlic!), stashing little measured bags in the freezer for use later. Otherwise, it is super added as fresh leaves to salad, to include (and to garnish) savoury bakes, to give a subtle edge to soups, blend into dips, and throw as a wild card ingredient into pasta dishes and stratas. The lovely flowers are edible too. A favourite recent breakfast – other than this one – had me folding finely chopped wild garlic into ricotta, adding in some lemon zest and salt, and folding this into setting egg for a soft and exceedingly luscious omelette. But this one is especially fab because it is baked on bread in the oven.
So, slice a couple of pieces of sourdough or other sturdy, good bread (no supermarket stuff, please – too absorbent), wilt your greens and crack dem eggs. And, you know, a Bloody Mary wouldn’t be a bad call either.
Creamy Kale and Wild Garlic Toast Bake
You really need good sturdy bread to make this work. Anything less will just act as a sponge when what you really want is it to hold up to the soft wilted greens and to catch the eggs. Sourdough is my call, but you be the judge. This is a luxurious breakfast designed to be made and immediately taken back to bed with you.
about 50-60g (2 packed cups) young kale or spinach – kale de-ribbed if necessary
a good handful of wild garlic, washed and roughly chopped
4 tbsp Greek yogurt or creme fraiche, divided use
2-3 heaped tbsp freshly grated vegetarian Parmesan or grana padano (I prefer the latter)
a few gratings of nutmeg, to taste
Lemon zest or sumac – optional
a slice of butter or some oil-spray
2 slices of best sourdough bread, as slices or cubed and pushed together to resemble slices (this makes it easier to eat in bed!)
2 organic, free-range hen or duck eggs (I had one of each, hence why one egg is more done than the other!)
salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
2. Wilt the kale/spinach and wild garlic in a little water. Squeeze dry and ‘fluff’ with a fork. Mix in the most of the yogurt, most of the cheese, some nutmeg (just a little), lemon zest/sumac if using, and season to taste. Set aside.
3. Butter or oil-spray a small enamel or glass dish, add your bread (buttering these if you wish – I don’t). Now dollop on your greens mix, pressing in two good indentations for the eggs. Crack in your eggs: don’t worry if some escapes. It is almost impossible to contain the white as this seems to have a mind of its own.
4. Pop the dish in the preheated oven and bake for about eight minutes, or until the whites are set/white and the yolk is runny. Sprinkle over more cheese if you like, and dollop on the remaining yogurt. Season with a little more salt and pepper.
Enjoy immediately, and with a large napkin.
More Wild Garlic Recipes On Food To Glow:
Wild Garlic, Lemon and Ricotta Toast (the basis for the omelette described above)
Spicy Cauliflower-Cashew Bites with Wild Garlic Sauce and Buffalo Sauce (not the main thing about the recipe but a useful sauce with loads of applications – even as a salad dressing!)
Wild Garlic Pesto Risotto (one of my first recipes)
Over on Instagram, you can see my “fast day”Walnut, Wild Garlic and Nettle Pesto with Poached Egg, Burnt Cherry Tomatoes and Courgetti! My Instagram feed is full of stuff – especially fast day/5:2 recipes/ideas – that doesn’t always make it to the blog but that we LOVE to eat.
And Two Really Fab Ones From Recipes From A Pantry:
Lastly, I am popping this seasonal quick recipe over to two GREAT recipe round-ups: