Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A foraging trip in the Jura

Last Sunday we went on a walk in the Jura. We took the train to Delémont, which is about 30 minutes from Basel, and followed a path through beautiful valleys and over cols to Laufen. Partially, to get out of Basel, partially because it was such a glorious day but also because this is the season for Baerlauch.

Also known as wild garlic, this plant grows rampant in the forests around here. The first time I'd read about it was in last years Delicious where they had an article about young spring greens. At that point I realised that this is what you used to smell when you went walking along the river in Balmarino, near Dundee, but somehow I never made it back during the season. Then suddenly I saw some in our local Bio shop but I really wanted to pick our own. I thought it would be hard to find but we ran into it within the first 15 minutes. It was amazing how much there was and Barry had to stop me from picking too much.

In the end, I picked about 400g which was tonnes, so the whole week we've been eating garlicy. My poor collegues! It started with some garlic mashed potato with our roast chicken dinner by just adding some chopped leaves at the end. Then I mixed a few leaves in with my lunchtime salad for several days. I managed to make 2 jars of wild garlic pesto using equal weights of leaves, pine nuts, parmagiano and twice as much olive oil. We had this with pasta and on brushetta and it's very nice although slightly more potent than the basil stuff. We also made this recipe for ravioli stuffed with wild garlic and ricotta. To some I added some chopped walnuts for a change in texture and taste. The nuttiness contrasted very well with the sharp taste of the garlic and the creamy ricotta. Then tonight, we finally finished the last of the leaves by making a recipe from this isusue of Delicious. It's a stirfry with clams, peas shoots and wild garlic. As I couldn't find pea shoots, I substituted with some nice lettuce and mangetous. I was surprised to find these clams in Basel, but Manor sold them, although I had to swallow briefly at the price! 27chf for a kilo. But they were well worth it!

Clams with peas and wild garlic
serves 4 as starter or 2 as main
1kg fresh clams
1/2 tbsp oil
1 large spring onion
leaves from 2-3 thyme sprigs
100g frsh or frozen garden peas
1/2 tbsp rice wine or dry sherry
1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
125ml vegetable stock, hot
handful of mangetouts
handful of wild garlic leaves trimmed and roughly chopped

Wash the clams under cold running water, discarding any open or broken ones. Heat oil in a large pan or wok and when hot, add chopped spring onion, thyme and garden peas. Stirfry for 1 min, then add all the liquid and the clams. Cover with a lid and leave to steam for 3-4 min, or until all the shells are open. Discard any clams that haven't opened. Uncover, add the mangetouts and wild garlic and leave till wilted. Check for seasoning and add salt if necessary. We ate this with pasta as a main course.


Pamela said...

I LOVE this time of year since I absolutely ADORE Bärlauch!!!!

Great recipe Eva, thanks for sharing!

CanadianSwiss said...

I love wild garlic. As a matter of fact, I will be picking some (no 50 meters from our house!) to make pesto for the weekend. What I especially like is that one doesn't smell half as garlicky as when you use real garlic.

Un-Swiss Miss said...

When we were up in Alsace this weekend we saw two women foraging my the side of the road while this guy sat on the hood of his car and smoked. My boyfriend joked about him being "the man of the year" - very sarcastically, of course - but we speculated about what they were picking the entire time. Must have been Bärlauch! We'll have to go hunting for the stuff. I assume it's rather distinctive...

Di said...

Wow - all the garlic dishes sound so amazing! It's great that you can go out foraging! I must admit I never knew that you could eat the leaves of the garlic plant - I would have always been looking for the bulbs! The clam dish sounds fab. May walk to Balmerino in your honour soon!!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I also love Bärlauch! As a matter of fact, last Sunday I picked enough to make a delicious pesto. I really like this time of the year...

Di said...

Hi Eva
Wanted to email you but address is at work so before I forget I thought I would post this weblink here for you. It was an article in the Guardian yesterday accompanied by some amazing photos of bento box lunches!! A link to he Flickr site shows the daily lunches of the children!!