There are a zillion good reasons to subscribe to a regular delivery of an organic veg box. But for me, one of the biggest reasons is that it enables you to try things you wouldn't normally have a chance to cook. Most of the time you get carrots, broccoli, and those damned potatoes that never stop piling up. But every week, there is at least one interesting item that makes you get on to google, and learn about nutritional values and cooking methods for something you've never used before. This week it was wild garlic.
Wild garlic looks like a bag full of leaves swept up at the florists. When it's growing, it can easily be mistaken for Lily of the Valley - apart from the smell.
The plant is completely different to the domestic garlic plant. The bulbs of wild garlic (Allium ursinum) take up to 3 years to mature, and are very small, so it's the leaves that we eat. The smell is quite pungent, but the flavour is actually quite mild - and doesn't leave the after-effects on your fingers and breath that normal garlic does. It's starting to emerge as a health-food because of it's high magnesium content.
This week, when Riverford Organics sent me some wild garlic, they also included a recipe card with instructions for Wild Garlic Risotto, and for Potato, Leek and Wild Garlic Gratin. This is some top drawer vegetarian comfort food. And not half bad for you either - especially as I substituted soya milk for the double cream.
From Riverford Organics
4-5 large potatoes, peeled & sliced
300g leeks, trimmed & thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
large handful wild garlic
100ml double cream (or use soya milk like I did)
2 tbsp of grated Parmesan
salt & pepper
1. Melt butter in a large pan - add leeks and cook gently until soft. Wash and roughly slice the wild garlic. Next, add garlic and wild garlic leaves and cook for 5 minutes.
2. Season well. Add cream and milk and bring to the boil. Add 1 tbsp of Parmesan. Check seasoning. Mix in a bowl with potato slices. Arrange in a gratin or ovenproof dish.
3. Cover with tin foil and bake at 180ºC for 1 hour, until the potatoes are just cooked. Remove foil, sprinkle with the rest of the cheese - place back in the oven and cook until brown on top.