Spring Salad with Asparagus and Wild Garlic

We’ve been enjoying yet more glorious weather in the UK, and it looks set to continue. I’m as guilty as anyone of the typically British attitude of wondering when it’s all going to go back to being grey and dreary, but it seems to be here to stay. I fully intend to make the most of the spring flowers, the luminous green of new leaves, all that energy. I love being able to go for beautiful walks in springtime and I recently went to gather my annual stock of wild garlic.

Gathering wild garlic in the woods epitomises Spring morning walks in my mind, especially if theres some sunshine. The dappled light peeking through fluttering leaves, smatterings of bluebells, and a stillness that can be found amongst the trees are what make it actually so energising for me. I love the mild garlicky smell that fills the woodland to signal foraging time. Read about how to find and use wild garlic here.

My idea for this salad is to celebrate all things spring and I love how green it is and how pretty it looks with the scattering of wild garlic flowers. Using flowers as a garnish is the simplest way to make a dish look beautiful and inviting, and in Spring I’m all about flowers! The fresh flavours of seasonal greens like asparagus and peas are there to represent the outdoors at this time of year and the still ever so slightly crisp, fresh breeze. I love that this salad has such a vibrant green colour with pops of white to represent the blooming elder, hawthorn, and wild garlic flowers.

You can choose whether you add the wild garlic to the dressing, or whether you chop it up and mix it in with the salad and just having a simple lemon dressing. The pickled fennel is optional too, but I like the slightly more balanced, rounded flavour that it brings just to complement the freshness and greenness of everything else.

Ingredients

For the salad
6 Asparagus spears
100g Garden peas
Wild garlic flowers to garnish
Pickled fennel to garnish (recipe here)
100g Watercress
2 Spring onions

For the dressing
Handful of wild garlic leaves
100ml Olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch salt

Method

  1. Make the dressing first. Crush the wild garlic in a pestle and mortar, or blend with the lemon juice in a small blender. Add the olive oil, salt and mix thoroughly. Set aside to infuse.
  2. Cook the garden peas until done.
  3. Slice the asparagus into thin slices diagonally along the stem, leaving the heads whole. Steam or blanch until cooked, but so that there’s still a bit of crunch.
  4. Arrange the watercress, thinly diagonally-sliced spring onion, asparagus, and peas on a large serving plate. Shake the dressing to combine everything again and pour over. Top with some ribbons of pickled fennel and sprinkle over the wild garlic flowers.

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