Rounding off this week of foraging posts…
Inspired by my brief sojourn in Italy, i decided to have a stab at foraging back here in Edinburgh. Was told that there was loads of wild garlic* by the hermitage braid burn not so far away from my house.
It was not hard to find, for a start the whole area smelled like a giant tossed salad and there was a carpet of edible plants as far as the eye could see.
standing in a giant salad, the air is pungent with the scent of garlicky onion
Am suddenly very aware of being a rank amateur and the dangers of being overly keen and not careful enough in plant identification, its a bit scary doing this on your own with no one to ask, is this right??? Having checked first with the park rangers to be sure the area was not toxic and that it was safe to eat the wild plants, i gathered about a kilo of the stuff (obviously you have to wash everything carefully- this is a dog walkers paradise – and i tried to gather a bit off route). I was told that this was not normal wild garlic, but few-flowered leeks (Allium paradoxum) also known as few-flower garlic – another member of the lily family. I was also advised that it was very strong (which i could smell) and to use just the leaves. On my way home i stopped off in my local organic food store, they were selling the very same stuff for £3 per 100g!!! so theoretically i had gathered £30 worth of food for free…anyway i made some soup out of it.
Few-flowered garlic and pea soup
Sweat some finely chopped onion in some butter, when soft add your roughly chopped thoroughly washed garlic leaves – this will cook down very quickly just like spinach. Add some stock (i had some good stuff left over from poaching a chicken) and some peas (frozen or fresh) boil for a minute or so and then blitz with a blender till smooth. Finish off with a little cream and season to taste, cook for another minute or so.
The really strong smelling leaves transform through the cooking process into something far more gentle and sweet than you would imagine, the result is something that tastes like a really fresh leek soup with a hint of pea , spring onion and garlic that does not need to be tampered with much, hence a simple seasoning of salt and black pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg, but i think that a few slivers of parmesan cheese in your serving bowl would not go amiss.
So anyway i ate it…it tasted good…and half a day later i appear not to have poisoned myself…result!…next…
* Other edible stuff currently growing in the braid burn area (though don’t ask me what it all looks like yet), hawthorn leaves, leaves from the lime tree , wood sage, ground elder (though the rangers said this was edible but not very nice…maybe i will give it a miss), young nettles and wood sorrel.
other foodie posts on this blog:
further adventures in foraging
cooking the haul
more foodie questions
nose to tail,
pulpo a la gallega
morcilla and dying arts