Since I was a little kid, springtime has always been synonym with foraging and cooking with wild herbs.
For years in this season, our table has been filled with dishes featuring wild garlic, wild hop shoots, mauve leaves, dandelion, and nettle. Usually, we would keep things simple and stir fry the herbs quickly before throwing them into a frittata or a savoury tart, or serving them as a side for meat or hard boiled eggs. Sometimes, we would do risotto or pasta or a minestrone with legumes and grains and whatever vegetables the season offered.
Living in the countryside has deeply shaped my way of conceiving food as something seasonal, and our cooking reflected this philosophy.
In London, the availability of produce from all over the world is both exciting and, at times, confusing. Farmers’ markets, on the other hand, with their local and seasonal produce, help me reconnect with what’s grown around here at any given time. Likewise, the abundance of wild herbs in the parks surrounding the city means that I can still fulfill the foraging instinct within me.
Last week, we went on a hunt for wild garlic, which is abundant here at this time of year. Starving after the long hike, we then headed home and made large platefuls of spicy pasta with the greens we had just picked. It was delicious.
Wild Garlic Spaghetti with Chilli Oil
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.
When boiling furiously, add the spaghetti (do not break them, just push them down slowly with a wooden spoon until they are submerged).
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add chilies and let them fry for 30 seconds, then add the garlic leaves and sauté them until wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Drain the spaghetti while still al dente and add them to the skillet with the sauce. Toss everything for a minute over medium-high heat, adding a splash of cooking water to bring it all together. Serve right away.