Melanie Johnson goes foraging for wild garlic.
There’s something deeply satisfying about foraging, especially when Nature serves up ingredients as flavoursome as wild garlic. It grows in abundance on woodland floors at this time of year–the smell is unmistakable.
Salmon with citrus, red-onion flowers, potato gnocchi and wild-garlic cream sauce (serves 4)
- 700g potatoes
- 2 egg yolks
- 150g 00 pasta flour
- Salt and ground white pepper
- Semolina for dusting
- 4 red onions
- 4 citrus fruits (I used lemons and blood oranges, but any will do)
- 4 salmon fillets
- Salt and ground black pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 50ml olive oil
- 100g wild garlic
- 1tspn vegetable bouillon powder
- 300ml boiling water
- 50ml double cream
Boil the potatoes in their skins until tender, but not breaking up. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, remove the skins and pass through a ricer. Set aside to cool completely, then add the egg yolks, flour and seasoning. Mix well to a dough. Sprinkle a tray with semolina, roll the dough into long sausages, cut into dumplings and mark them either with a fork or on a gnocchi board. Return to the tray with the semolina and set aside. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
Peel the red onions and cut the tops off, then trim the bases so that they sit flat, but the roots stay intact. Next, cut them into eighths from above, but don’t cut all the way down to the base—they need to retain their shape, so that they open to look like water lilies. Drizzle with olive oil and arrange on a parchment – or foil-lined baking tray.
Cut the citrus fruit into slices and add to the baking tray, then lay the salmon fillets on top, season, drizzle with olive oil and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Bake for about 18–22 minutes, until the salmon is just cooked, but still moist inside.
In a large pan, fry the wild garlic until gently wilted, then sprinkle with the powdered vegetable bouillon. Add the boiling water and simmer gently for a few minutes, before adding the cream. Keep over a low heat.
Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil, drop the gnocchi in and, when they float, remove them with a slotted spoon. Add the cooked gnocchi to the frying pan with the wild-garlic sauce and heat everything through.
Serve the gnocchi and sauce with the salmon and red-onion flowers, plus one final squeeze of lemon juice.
More ways with wild garlic
Wild-garlic soup with red Camargue rice and hazelnuts
Add 100g of red Camargue rice to a saucepan of boiling water and cook for 20–25 minutes. Meanwhile, gently fry half a brown onion in olive oil until softened. Add 200g of wild garlic (roughly 2 big handfuls) to the frying pan and toss in the oil and onions, then pour in 300ml of whole milk and 300ml of hot chicken stock. Simmer gently for about 6–8 minutes, but don’t allow to boil. Blitz the soup in a blender, then pass through a sieve. Once cooked, drain the rice and stir in seasoning and a splash of olive oil. Divide the rice between 4 bowls, pour the soup in and scatter with chopped hazelnuts.
Place the following in a processor: 100g of wild garlic, 25g of parsley, 25g of basil, 60g of pine nuts, 60g of Parmesan, the juice and zest of a lemon, 150ml of olive oil and seasoning. Process to a paste and serve with pasta, mixed into salad dressings or loosened with a little more olive oil to pour over grilled fish.
Wild-garlic, radish and pea salad
Finely slice a bunch of radishes and mix with about 50g of wild-garlic leaves (a small handful) and 150g of cooked garden peas. Whisk together 150ml of olive oil, 50ml of white-wine vinegar and a tablespoon of Greek yogurt, then pour this over the salad. Serve with a slice of rye bread for a light lunch.