Spring is in the air with a wild garlic risotto


[Before I say anything else, thanks so much to those of you who have been enquiring after Nick’s health after I posted about him last week.  You’ll be pleased to know Nick is much improved!  The antibiotics have cleared up the lymphadenitis, and the shingles is slowly being beaten into submission by regular doses of L-lysine and vitamins.  So I have my hubby back – hurrah!]

OK, on with today’s show.  What do the plants know that we don’t?  Despite the unseasonally chilly temperatures and snow (snow!!) last weekend, it would appear that everything is just bursting into bloom left, right and centre.  Here’s a small selection – and that’s just in my garden over the past month or so!



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Despite the last couple of mornings being gloriously sunny, the nights are still chilly and I still feel the need for some sort of comfort food.  But at the same time, there is all this great fresh stuff suddenly reappearing at the markets and I just want to buy it ALL and cook with it.  Given the size of my kitchen, this is clearly not an option (!) so I tend to select a couple of special treats, and one of my favourite spring treats is wild garlic. 

Wild garlic is an international man of mystery with many aliases, including ramsons, buckrams, broad-leaf garlic, wood garlic and bear garlic – the latter being derived from a direct translation of its Latin name Allium ursinum.  It is a member of the genus that includes both garlic and onions and is closely related to wild chives, while the bear part of its name comes from the fact that brown bears like to dig up and snack on its bulbs.  Taste-wise, it has the same flavour as garlic, only milder, and it is the leaves and flowers that are eaten, rather than the bulb.  It likes growing wild in swampy, mainly deciduous woodlands where it often shares space with bluebells.  With its broad green leaves, it is often confused with Lily of the Valley, Autumn crocus or the wild arum – which is bad news since these three are all poisonous to some degree!  If you are going foraging, check that you have the right plant by crushing the leaves to check if they release a characteristic garlic odour. 

Or take a trusty brown bear with you.

WILD GARLIC RISOTTO (serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter)

2 shallots, finely chopped
20g butter, plus 20g cubed for later
2 Tbsp olive oil
300g short-grain risotto rice (I used arborio)
100ml dry white wine
750ml vegetable stock
100g wild garlic
100g grated Parmiggiano
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter together with the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Add the shallots and saute until translucent and soft but do not let them brown. 

Add the rice and cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly stir so that each grain is well-coated with oil/butter.  Add the white wine and keep stirring until the liquid has been absorbed almost completely. 

Add the stock (I used Kallo organic) a ladleful at a time (probably about 150-200 ml per ladle).  Keep stirring until each ladleful has been completely absorbed, but do not let the rice dry out and stick to the pot.  Once each ladleful is absorbed, add the next until the stock has all been added.  The rice should be soft but each grain should retain some bite in the centre, perfectly al dente. 

Stir in the wld garlic, Parmiggiano and remaining butter in cubes and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve either in wide, shallow bowls as a starter or (as I did) as an accompaniment to a main course like chicken with fennel, spices and cream

Whb_2_yrs_2I’m submitting this post as my entry to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, kindly hosted by my friends Jai and Bee at Jugalbandi, who are so organised that they have a dedicated WHB entry form!  The deadline is tomorrow, so get moving if you want to take part!

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  1. says

    Glad to hear the hubby is on the mend!
    I’ve been gorging myself on green garlic for the past few weeks – isn’t spring wonderful?
    Great risotto, as always!

  2. says

    my word, jeanne!!! those flowers are gorgeous. i’ve never eaten or cooked with wild garlic before. this sounds like something both of us would love. thanks for your entry and glad to know nick is getting better.

  3. says

    That Jai and Bee and definitely impressive with the entry form aren’t they? What a talented couple. I’m so glad to hear that Nick is doing better. The risotto sounds wonderful. I don’t think I’ve had wild garlic either.

  4. says

    Hey, I really want to try my hand at risotto, but am very nervous to try for some reason. And I FINALLY got round to responding to your tag AND congratulations on the blog awards! I’ll have a local beer to celebrate with you.

  5. says

    I love this recipe. Im Cuban so anything connected to rice is up my alley. im going to try this tonight and let you know what happens…..Love those flower pictures…..

  6. says

    This is making me hungry just looking at it! I don’t know if I would trust myself enough to forage for wild garlic, though, especially not if it has not one, not two, but three toxic look-alikes.

  7. says

    I can smell this lovely risotto from here. Thanks for sending me a fix of this beloved ingredient which we are deprived of here in the tropics. If I ever get my grubby fingers on a handful of these leaves again, I will try this. Glad your man is on his feet again — I’ll bet a whiff of this heavenly dish helped!

  8. says

    I just came across this post today, so likely your hubby is fine by now, but FYI, castor oil is a wonderfully effective treatment for shingles. Apply it thickly at night before bed and wear old pajamas or otherwise cover it with clean pure cotton clothes. Should only take a couple of nights. My mother and a very good friend both had perfect results with this. You’ll be amazed at the quick recovery : )