Spring is here! The daffodils are out and the lanes are beginning to have a faint scent of garlic as the wild leaves are sprouting and populating the hedgerows. It inspires me to walk and forage and I look forward to making wild garlic pesto which works spectacularly well with stuffed spring lamb (recipe below), in pasta sauces, risotto and swirled into dips.
Last year, it was such a pleasure to spend my Sundays wondering the lanes around Totnes, picking wild garlic. Being outdoors, rather than in an aisle of a floridly lit supermarket, plucking my ingredients for that evenings dinner (and many more – pesto keeps in the fridge for weeks). Obviously it’s not feasible to forage all our kitchen cupboard contents, but there’s something so satisfying about growing, picking, hunting and foraging your own food. Just like with Adam’s gourmet mushroom kits, where we observed over several days, the delicious and delicate oyster mushrooms grow, then harvest, cook and eat them – foraging has an innate pleasure to it.
Wild garlic is such an easily foraged, safe and simple to identify wild ingredient. It inspires me to find others. I would love to learn about seaweed, seeds and nuts, berries and wild fruits. In an age of austerity, how wonderful to be able to find free, wild and deliciously seasonal food!
My mission for this spring and summer is to forage as much as I can, to learn about foods I didn’t know about before and to cook! Watch this space for delicious recipe’s and culinary experiences.
For now, I’ll share a recipe I made last year.
Stuffed Lamb breast
for the Wild Garlic Pesto:
100g wild garlic leaves, washed well.
100g raw walnuts
s+p to taste
whiz in a blender, adding enough oil to get a pesto consistency.
Mix the pesto with the zest of one lemon, about 200g breadcrumbs and fresh ground pepper to make a moist stuffing, adding more oil if it needs help binding. Form the mixture into a sausage shape and lay along the lamb breast and press into the meat. Roll the joint like a Swiss roll and tie with string. Wrap the joint in foil and put in a roasting tin and roast in a medium to low oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and roast for a further hour and 30 minutes so that it has been cooked tender right through, but it is crackly and crisp on the outside and the fat has been rendered out of it. You can add par-boiled potatoes in after about an hour of the 2 hour cooking time.
Carve the meat beforehand by simply cutting the whole joint into thin slices, handling them carefully so the stuffing doesn’t fall out. Then arrange the slices on a serving dish and put them back into the oven for a few minutes to get hot again until you are ready to serve.
Delicious with steamed spring greens, carrot and swede mash and a rich gravy!