Monday, 5 May 2014

A Spring walk along the Downs May 2014

Cowslips just by our gate

Dead Nettle soft and gentle unlike their stinging cousins

Wild Garlic or Ramsons that Ross McNicol makes delicious meals from.and this recipe pinched from River Cottage isn't half bad too;
  • 100g freshly picked wild garlic leaves
  • 50g shallot, spring onions or leeks
  • 50g shelled walnuts
  • 200 ml olive oil, sunflower oil or rapeseed oil
  • 50-60g mature hard cheese (Quick’s goats cheese , Parmesan or similar hard, mature cheese), finely grated
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar

  •  Directions
    Start by picking the leaves over and discarding any coarse stalks, damaged leaves or any stray pieces of grass (you don’t need to wash unless you’ve picked from road side verges). Place in food processor along with walnuts, shallot and 150 ml oil. Blitz for about a minute until the everything is finely chopped up. Fold in the grated cheese, salt and sugar Fill into clean sterilised jars to within 5-7 cm of the top of jar. Make sure you press down firmly with the back of a spoon to remove any pockets of air (trapped air can cause contamination) allowing sufficient room to swirl the remaining oil over the top of the pesto to seal the surface. When you come to use the pesto, stir it well before spooning out. Make sure the surface of any pesto remaining in the jar is completely covered with oil before you return to the fridge. (this is very important if it is to keep well).
The oval shaped and strongly flavoured leaves of wild garlic (Alium ursinum) are one of the first wild foods of the year we can get out there to harvest. Usually found in moist, wooded shaded areas the leaves are easily identified by their typical and overpowering aroma (smells of garlic) and are sometimes referred to as Ramsons. This spring pesto is full of gutsy flavour and can be used with pasta, spread on crostini, served with crudit̩s used in omelettes, swirled into soups and stews. Keep it in the fridge for up to 3 weeks Рthis recipe makes 5 x 200g jars, so any extra can easily be frozen in small containers so you can go wild with garlic throughout the year.

Thanks PamJam

Dandy Lions make tangy salad leaves too..when I was little we'd chase each other squealing.."Wet the bed wet the bed" It was only later I found they are diuretic!
The stinging nettles nestled amongst them also make great veggies and lovely soup.

 Red Campion always look so pretty
A lady bird on early cow parsnip. My horse loved to munch on this if he could grab mouthfuls as we strolled along.

I think that's Speedwell hiding shyly

A wonderful, stinky swirl of wild garlic in the woods with bluebells nodding amongst the pungent white flowers

Bluebells dingaling

Forgetmenots and campion

And home to apple blossom so sweet even though it is rather boring Golden Delicious..there are other more scrummy kinds in the garden but these are good too.