Wild garlic scented flageolet beans
It’s always nice to do a quick bit of foraging and feature something wild in your dishes and the coming of spring heralds ample supplies of wild garlic (aka ramsons). These can be found from March to May in most shaded hedgerows and woodlands and is easily identifiable by its lush, elongated, green leaves and later, delicate white flowers. Plus the overwhelming smell of garlic, of course.
You can eat all of the plant, but the leaves are generally the best bit – the flowers do look beautiful in a salad but are very powerful. The flavour is garlicky but has a spring oniony quality as well.
Flageolet beans are particularly satisfying as they create a lovely creamy texture but hold their shape and have a delicate flavour. They are perfect served with lamb (slow roast shoulder or griddled chump steaks) or duck breast, and small, crisp jacket potatoes. You can prepare the beans in advance and then just cook your meat and other veg when you are ready to eat. The below is a substantial meal for two.
6 to 8 wild garlic leaves
A rasher of streaky bacon
A ripe tomato
A can of flageolet beans
A couple of “branches” of parsley
A splash of white wine
Extra virgin olive oil
A knob of butter
Salt and pepper
- Heat the oil gently in a small saucepan, chop the bacon and fry until just browning
- Dice the tomato, add it to the pan and fry for a minute or so
- Add the wine and cook for another minute. Add the beans (don’t drain them – the starchy water in the can contributes to the consistency), garlic, parsley and a grind of pepper and simmer for 20 minutes or so
- Taste and season to your taste. The texture should be silky and substantial but still quite fluid – add a splash of water if required. The beans are now ready and can be refrigerated or served at once. Before serving melt in the knob of butter
For a day spent learning a wide selection of seasonal recipes and techniques have a look at our Game & Seasonal Inspiration courses