Garlic might just be the most beloved flavoring herb in the world. Diverse cultures have used its delicious flavor to enhance cuisine since time immemorial! As possibly the world’s most popular culinary herb, let’s see what garlic offers in a medicinal way in this week’s #herbalwisdomwednesday
“The Blurb: Garlic is an amazing herb because it’s very easy to access and use without looking too far. There are many great options to introduce more of it into your diet…fresh, granulated, powdered, pickled...the list goes on! Garlic is a great herb to use for combating the common cold, or to raise your immune system. It’s warming and spicy, and I always go for lots of garlic when I’m feeling a cold coming on. Add it to soups or sautéed veggies, broths (my personal favorite) or any other food you want to add some flavor and wonderful health benefits. Garlic has also been known to help with cholesterol, blood pressure and for its high antioxidant properties. Garlic has also been used for centuries for its antimicrobial properties. One of my first experiences with using garlic medicinally was when my mom put a peeled garlic clove in my ear while I had a bad earache as a kid. This is my first go to when I have an earache, and it’s an easy remedy to use if you don’t have garlic ear oil on hand and need to relive ear pain quickly. There are many ways to include immune building herbs into your life and diet, but garlic is by far my favorite. It’s tasty, warming and very easy to use and find!
Common Name: Garlic
Latin Name: Allium sativum
Family Name: Amaryllidaceae
Description: Most people probably have garlic sitting in their kitchen. The bulbs are covered in a thin, papery white skin that protect and hold the bulbs together. The leaves are usually layered and a bright green color. The flowering stalk produces a bulb like flower, similar to that of a chive blossom or other onion blossoms.”
-Maisie Moore, 2020
Garlic is probably a staple in many of your kitchens, but have you tried wild garlic? All parts of the plant are edible but many of us tend to stick with the cloves in the bulb.
Here are some fun recipes to try while it’s still in season.
Wild Garlic Salsa Verde from Riverford UK
This recipe isn’t what we think of when we hear Salsa verde (at least here in California)
- 1 clove garlic, crushed or chopped
- 1 tbsp capers, rinsed of vinegar and salt
- 2 -3 anchovy fillets (not essential but definitely worth adding)
- 2 handfuls flat-leaf parsley leaves
- ½ handful wild garlic leaves
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar or lemon juice
- 6 tbsp olive oil
Place the garlic, capers, anchovies, parsley and wild garlic in a food processor and blend well (or chop finely by hand). Place the mixture in a bowl and add the vinegar or lemon juice. Drizzle in enough olive oil to give a fairly thick consistency and season well.
Wild Garlic Hummus by Velvet & Vinegar
- 300 g cooked chickpeas organic
- 40 g wild garlic organic
- 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice organic
- 3 tbsp olive oil organic
- 2 tsp white Tahini paste approx. 25g, organic
- 1/2 tsp salt organic
- water or aquafaba to your liking
- Rinse the wild garlic under running water and let it drip off.
- Put all ingredients in a blender and puree. Alternatively you can use a hand blender.
- It is not advisable to add all the water/ aquafaba at once, so you can choose your own consistency. First add a little water and then more and more until it fits you.
Nettle Gnudi with Wild Garlic Pesto
Recipe from Good Food magazine, April 2015
- 2 x 250g tubs good-quality ricotta
- 200g young nettle leaves (foraged - see tip)
- 50g parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), plus extra to serve
- 2 egg yolks
- nutmeg, for grating
- 350g semolina flour or fine semolina
- 6 tbsp wild pesto (Below is a tasty one from herbalist Jane Bothwell)
- Line a sieve with a piece of muslin and set over a bowl. Tip in the ricotta, gather up the ends of the muslin and gently tie together. Leave to drain for 4 hrs or preferably overnight.
- Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil. Blanch the nettle leaves quickly, then drain and chill under the cold tap. Thoroughly drain again, and squeeze out as much water from the leaves as you can, then very finely chop and chill until needed.
- To make the gnudi, transfer the strained ricotta to a large bowl. Beat a little, then add all but a few tbsp of the Parmesan, the egg yolks, nettles, a good grating of nutmeg and plenty of seasoning. Give it a good stir to combine. Tip the semolina into a large baking tray (it will need to fit in your fridge later). Wet your hands, dip them in the semolina and, working quickly, scoop 1 heaped tsp of the ricotta mixture into your hands and gently roll into a ball. Place the ball on the semolina tray and roll around so that it is completely coated. Pick it up and roll between the palms of your hands to create a smooth ball, then put back in the semolina. Continue with the rest of the mixture – you should have about 28 balls in total. Leaving the balls in the semolina, make sure that they are well spaced, then cover loosely with cling film. Chill for 12-24 hrs – the longer the better – until a skin has formed on the gnudi.
- To cook, bring a large pan of water to the boil. Meanwhile, spoon the pesto into a frying pan. Once the water is boiling, drop in batches of the gnudi and simmer for 2-3 mins or until they rise to the surface. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a sieve. Repeat with the remaining gnudi. Heat the pesto in the pan with a few tbsp of the gnudi cooking water, to loosen it. Tip the cooked gnudi into the frying pan and gently turn the balls in the pesto. Divide between plates and scatter over the remaining Parmesan and a good grinding of black pepper before serving.
Wild Herb Pesto
- 4-6 cloves of garlic (Allium sativum),
- ½ cup of nuts or seeds of your choice, lightly roasted,
- 1 cup of olive oil or herb infused olive oil,
- 4 loosely filled cups of greens of your choice.
Some good combinations are:
sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella), sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus)
parsley (Petroselinum sativum) , walnuts
- parsley (Petroselinum sativum) dandelion (Taraxacum officinale lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) almonds
- peppermint (Mentha piperita) , parsley (Petroselinum sativum) pine nuts.
- basil (Ocimum basilicum) kale, sunflower seeds,
- Cover with a thin layer of oil and put in a small size container to minimize air space.
- It will keep in fridge for about 3 weeks, and may also be frozen.
- Enjoy on pasta, rice, bread, in soups, etc.