Wild garlic abounds at this time of year … everywhere except in my neighbourhood. I am planting some for next year but in the meantime I have to forage far afield to find it. There are alternatives though if it’s equally elusive where you live.
You can replace it with three-cornered leek, which often grows wild where garlic doesn’t, or steal a few leaves from any domestic garlic bulbs you may have growing in the garden. I haven’t tried it with the green part of spring onions but it’s worth experimenting.
You don’t have to pan-fry the gnocchi (in which case try brown butter, a few fried sage leaves and grated parmesan) but it’s a lovely way to eat them, either as a side dish, or on their own with a good tomato sauce.
We ate them with seared venison fillet and purple sprouting broccoli, steamed and tossed with a mixture of butter, lemon juice and zest and anchovy.
Any leftover gnocchi can be frozen, uncooked, in a single layer. Transfer to a sealable bag and when you want to eat them, cook from frozen, straight into boiling water.
A note on foraging: it’s not illegal to pick flowers, fruit, fungi and foliage in the UK provided it’s for personal rather than commercial use. There are exceptions to this: local by-laws may forbid foraging and for obvious reasons you can’t do it at Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
It is illegal to uproot a plant and it’s sensible to pick a leaf or two from lots of plants rather than to denude one. And bear in mind that while foraging isn’t classed as theft, you may still be committing the civil offence of trespass. If in doubt, ask the landowner.
Pan-fried Wild Garlic Gnocchi
700g floury potatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
120g wild garlic leaves, thoroughly rinsed, or 80g domestic garlic leaves
2 egg yolks
150g plain flour
Rice flour, for dusting
Olive oil and butter, for frying
Bake the potatoes until soft. As soon as they’re cool enough to handle, scoop out the middles and push through a ricer into a bowl. Allow to cool.
Blanch the garlic leaves in boiling water for a minute, drain very thoroughly and chop finely. Add to the potato along with the eggs yolks and stir with a fork to mix.
Season well and add three-quarters of the flour, stirring with the fork again. Form into a dough and add more flour as necessary until you have a soft, pliable but not overly sticky dough. You may not need all the flour. Try not to over-work it or your gnocchi will be tough.
Dust your work surface lightly with rice flour. Divide the dough into four and roll into sausages, about 2cm in diameter. With a sharp knife, cut into 2.5cm sections.
You can either use these as they are, as little cushions, or roll them over the back of a floured fork to make indentations. These ridges are supposed to help sauce adhere but honestly, I don’t think it makes much difference and unless you are deft and experienced, there’s a danger of over-working the dough.
Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and drop in the gnocchi in batches. Don’t overcrowd the pan. They’re about done when they bob to the surface, around three minutes. Give them another 20 seconds then taste one: it should be cooked through and not floury. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well.
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil with a good knob of butter in a heavy-based pan and fry the gnocchi on each side until golden brown. Eat straight away.
I could send youi kilos and kilos of wild garlic, but I think Royal Mail wouldn’t appreciate it somehow 😉
Haha, likely not. I did find some in the end. It grows with its usual profligacy all over Suffolk too, just not in my immediate area. It sort of defeats the object, to my mind, if you have to get in the car to go foraging. 🙂
Oh, by the way, I’ve never come cross frying gnocchi before. Esssential for this recipe? Or a choice? I sometimes gently pat raw gnocchi with the ‘punched holes’ face of a grater to give a rough texture, and find it easier than using a fork
No, you can eat them the usual way as well. I just wanted something that filled the same function as a roast potato for what we were eating and it does give them a different dimension. The grater is a good tip, ta. I’m useless at the fork business (as you can probably see). Lx
O-ho, these sound fabulous! My attempts at gnocchi have always resulted in slimy rocks but I’m willing to give it another go.
Thanks! I know what you mean, I think it depends on the potatoes to some extend – you want ones that aren’t at all gluey. Desiree work and I’ve heard Marfona are good too. Lxx
Oh my god I can just smell these!!! I love pan-fried gnocchi. Unfortunately I’be never had wild garlic.
It is rather lovely … if you can get hold of it! You could forego the alliums and make these with spinach, too. Different but nice. Lx
I love gnocchi and I bet with a hint of garlic they’re delicious. I’ve never pan fried them either, will change that as soon as the sage bush recovers from an attack of horrid mealy bugs which necessitated a hard cut back
Dratted bugs. We had a really mild winter here so no doubt all the beasties which are the enemies of veg growing will rebound in vast numbers. The gnocchi are very tasty, well worth a punt. Lxx
Those look fabulous. Our ramps (which I think are the same thing, basically, as your wild garlic) are about ready. There aren’t any on our property, but lots not too far away. Ah, spring!
Thanks, Michelle. Wonderful, isn’t it? And this year I’m planning to get my own back on the nettles and ground elder, which sad to say, do exist in some numbers in our garden. If you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em. 🙂
on wild garlic: when I was cooking in Dorset, it grew just just outside my kitchen and my co-chef would walk out and come back with loads . Here in London I pay now £ 1.75 per small bag at my local farmers’ market – which confirms the point that London IS crazy. I like the stuff, in moderation because it is so strong.
You were so lucky to have it growing on the doorstep! It does grow in pockets in London – there used to be some at the end of our old allotment in Islington for instance – but obviously not in the profusion you find it in the country. Do you find it varies in strength depending on how old it is? Lx
! an ex Islingtonian! we live off Highbury Hill station, just on the fields basically.
Do you prefer the countryside? I loved the scenery in Dorset, but I found it a little too one-dimensional (in those rare occasion when I could leave my kitchen – we had a restaurant there)
on wild garlic: I do not remember noticing any difference, but then, we would only get super young and tender leaves
Gosh, we must have been near neighbours, we lived one street back from the Fields, heading towards the new Arsenal stadium. I do miss some things about London, not least the huge range of ethnic foodstuffs and the ability to walk to the shops, but it’s swings and roundabouts … we have some amazing food producers here in Suffolk and I can buy direct from the farm. And re wild garlic, yes, young tender leaves are nicest. Lx
Oh Linda these were great. The first time I’ve cooked all week after The Lurgey, and they went down a treat with some sausages – I thought one foray into cooking was quite enough in the circumstances. Frying them does indeed add another dimension. Would you mind if I re-blogged this post sometime next week? Pretty please?
I’m so pleased they worked out for you, thank you. And of course you can re-blog the post, although you’ll have to copy and paste as I’ve temporarily disabled the re-blogging facility, sorry. Linda x
That’s a shame, as it would have led people more easily to explore your blog, which was partly my intention. Thanks anyway. PS. I am xx
You can copy and paste the link. I disabled it because someone was re-posting wholesale and while flattering, it seemed a bit odd.
Indeed. You do the work so s/he doesn’t have to!
PS hope you’re feeling better now. xx
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