Wild garlic or ramps, known as ramsløk in Norwegian, can be found along the coasts and in the forests of Norway mainly during May and June. The season is short, only a few weeks, and as quickly as they grow up, they wither before the start of summer. They are a culinary treasure, used by chefs and home cooks who wish to serve up the perfect taste of springtime. They are also incredibly nutritious, and have been used for centuries for their medicinal properties.
This delightful plant grows wild, and has a subtle garlic flavor. It makes a nice addition to soups, salads, tarts and sauces as its taste is incredibly versatile. It’s one of those greens that needs only a little imagination to go a long way. If you can’t get your hands on any wild garlic, you can substitute it with garlic chives.
Sometimes the spring days are warm and sometimes the days are cool. On the cooler days, I like to bake and cook and fill the house with an aroma that comes when the stove is on and the oven is roaring.
With a couple handfuls of wild garlic, I opted for something homey. A simple soup and a hearty, multiplex bread. Comfort food, but fresh and reminiscent of the season. Together, they can be a complete meal or as separate dishes on their own.
Wild Garlic Soup (Ramsløksuppe)
- 25g (2Tb) butter
- 3 medium (400g) potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 medium onion
- 1 liter (4 cups) vegetable stock
- 200g or 4 handfuls of wild garlic leaves, roughly chopped
- heavy cream for serving (optional)
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and sauté over medium-high heat until soft and translucent. Add the diced potatoes and cook together for about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes. Add the wild garlic leaves and cook for 2-3 minutes. Take the soup of the heat and puree with a hand blender, or blender, being careful of the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in individual bowls with a dash of cream on top.
Wild Garlic and Potato Bread (Ramsløkbrød)
Adapted from Paul Hollywood’s Potato and Dill Bread
(Makes 2 loaves)
- 20g (3/4oz) fresh yeast
- warm water
- 500g (1lb 2 oz) strong white flour
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 8 medium new potatoes, scrubbed
- butter and oil, for frying
- 50g (large handful) fresh wild garlic leaves
Dilute the yeast in a little warm water. In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Add the diluted yeast. Slowly add enough water to the flour until you have a malleable dough. Cover and leave out to rest overnight.
The following day, boil the potatoes for 5 minutes. Leave them to cool, then cut into cubes or quarters. Fry the potatoes in a little butter and oil until golden brown, then add the wild garlic and cook 2 minutes longer. Take off the heat and leave them to cool.
Grease a baking tray. Divide the dough into two pieces and flatten them into an oval shape. Place them on the baking tray and leave them to rise for 1-2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 230 C/450 F. Cover the two pieces of dough evenly with the potato and wild garlic mixture. Press the mixture firmly into each dough. Sprinkle the tops with some chopped fresh wild garlic and sea salt. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
For more springtime foraging recipes, check out my Nettle & Honey Cake (Brenneslekake)