A few weeks ago, our favourite veggie stall at the farmer’s market started selling wild garlic leaves in bags. I’d never tried wild garlic before, but we gave it a go out of curiosity and immediately started kicking ourselves for not seeking it out earlier. It’s fantastic, and versatile, great straight-up sauteed, like any other green, or torn up into a salad or stirred into soups. I started putting it in everything. We got a bag every week.
Fast forward to this past Friday. The weather’s improved and our elderly dog was feeling frisky, so I took her for a walk along the Waters of Leith, which were all sunshine-sparkly and lined with some very late-blooming snowdrowps. About 2/3 of the way through the walk, I took a closer look at one of those snowdrops and said, ‘hang on a sec–that’s not a snowdrop! That’s an allium head if I ever saw one!’ Yep, sure enough, the banks of the river were absolutely covered with wild garlic.
My eyes practically popped out of my head. I gathered as much as I could take and immediately started considering what to do with it. I could go the usual route, or maybe try something new. Something like…a savoury muffin, perhaps?
Yes, muffins aren’t just for breakfast anymore. I adapted a recipe for goat cheese and spinach muffins, substituting the wild garlic for spinach, and these puppies were the delicious result. Tangy goat cheese played nicely off the subtle onion/garlic flavour of the greens, and they paired beautifully with some stewed and spiced flageolet beans served with a bit of leftover duck confit and quick-sauteed chard. An astonishingly quick and delicious dinner. They’d also go very well with pork chops, I suspect, or chicken. A milder meat that won’t overpower the muffins’ flavour.
***A word on foraging. The nice thing about wild garlic is it’s one of those foraging plants that’s really easy to identify just by smell. Break or bruise a leaf and breathe in–they’ll have a slightly oniony/garlicy scent. But if you’re not sure, don’t risk it. Also, make sure you’re not foraging on private property, and it might be a good idea to go slightly off the beaten path (where dogs may have trod less) to gather. Wild garlic tends to grow in damp areas and in woodlands, and they have long, sword-shaped leaves and grow pretty little white flowers towards the end of the season (which is usually in early spring). You can find the leaves at some farmers’ markets; in the States, they’re usually sold as Ramps.
Goat Cheese and Wild Garlic Muffins
yield: 9 muffins
Adapted from Delicious Magazine
25g unsalted butter
100g (a little more than 2 cups) wild garlic leaves, chopped
125g plain flour
125g whole wheat flour (you can also use all white or all whole wheat, if you prefer)
1T baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1tsp hot smoked paprika (optional, but adds a nice kick if you use it)
1 egg, beaten
120g soft goat’s cheese, crumbled
Melt the butter with the milk in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic leaves and simmer for about 1 minute, until wilted. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. When cool, blend in a food processor or blender until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the egg and garlic mixture, then the cheese, and stir gently until just combined. Fill greased muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes, until risen and a cake tester inserted in the middle of one comes out clean. Turn onto a rack to cool. Try not to eat them all in one sitting.