Food writer and broadcaster Jenny Jefferies writes about wild garlic in a new column.

Spring has finally sprung and it is absolutely my most favourite of all the seasons.

A spell of colourful celebration and a warm welcome of hope and gratitude, out from the dark, wet, winter that has gone before. The gentle budding of flowers, the magnificent explosion of blossom and the endearing, bouncing lambs are like a big pat on the back for all of us.

Wild garlic has been gracing our forest and riverbank soils for more than 12,000 years, and the long, slender, whimsical, green leaves along with the white, starry flowers are famous for their heritage, folklore, medicinal value and culinary versatility. 

The luscious carpet of aromatic ‘king of herbs’ are often foraged by enthusiasts the world over.

But be careful, you really need to know what you’re doing. Wild garlic, or its Latin name Allium Ursinum, can often be confused with very similar looking plants that are poisonous, for example, Lily of the valley and Meadow Saffron. 

Dishes that you can make with wild garlic are pesto, pasta, scones, soups and cheese, and the flowers can be used to garnish salads.

I recently made some focaccia at the School of Artisan Food and I decorated the top with some wild garlic resulting in a pungent, but delicious, unique, and a rustic looking loaf. 

This month’s recipe is 'wild garlic tarte soleil by Guy Singh-Watson of Baddaford Farm and Riverford Organic Farmers, and is featured in my book For The Love Of The Land II: A Cookbook To Celebrate the British Farming Community and their Food published by Meze Publishing. 

He says: "My enthusiasm for farming has a lot to do with being in nature, and for me that means sharing space rather than controlling and monopolising the countryside.”

“A sun-shaped tart to celebrate the glossy, pungent wild garlic foraged each Spring from our woodland. Wild garlic not in season? Simply use spinach or chard instead. For a vegan version, use dairy-free puff pastry, brush with oil instead of egg, and replace the cheese with tapenade or vegan pesto.”

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Wisbech Standard: This month’s recipe is 'wild garlic tarte soleil by Guy Singh-Watson of Baddaford Farm and Riverford Organic Farmers,This month’s recipe is 'wild garlic tarte soleil by Guy Singh-Watson of Baddaford Farm and Riverford Organic Farmers, (Image: Riverfood Organic Farmers)

Preparation Time: 10 mins; Cooking Time: 30 mins. Serves 4



100g wild garlic

2 sheets of puff pastry (approx. 300g each)

1 egg, beaten

11⁄2 tbsp Dijon mustard 120g cheddar cheese, grated 60g parmesan, finely grated Black pepper

1 tsp poppy seeds


Put a kettle of water on to boil. Thoroughly wash the wild garlic and sit it in a heatproof bowl. Pour over the boiling water and leave it for about 30 seconds until it has softened and wilted.

Drain and cool it by covering in cold water. Drain it again and then squeeze out as much excess water as you can before roughly chopping it.

Roll each pastry sheet out into a large circle (approximately 26cm in diameter). Put one circle on a lined baking tray and pop the other into the fridge until needed.

Brush some beaten egg in a 1cm border around the edge of the pastry circle on the tray. Smear the inside of the circle evenly with mustard and then scatter over the chopped wild garlic and three quarters of the cheddar and parmesan. Finish with a few turns of black pepper.

Remove the second sheet of pastry from the fridge and place it directly on top of the filling, pressing the edges together to seal. Mark the centre of the circle by pressing the rim of a small glass or cup onto it. This gives you central hub to cut towards.

Take a ruler and lightly score the circle into 24 equal divisions through the centre. Take a large sharp knife and cut each line to the mark you made with the glass rim.

This will give you 24 spokes radiating out from a central hub. One by one, take the end of each spoke and give it a full turn, making two distinct twists in the length. Try and bring the end back down in line with the circle edge. Do this all the way around.

Brush the whole tart with beaten egg, then sprinkle the poppy seeds and remaining cheese over the top. Return it to the fridge for 10 minutes to rest while you preheat your oven to 190°c or Gas Mark 5. Transfer the tart to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.