a real forest feast! this past sunday, we went picking 'baerlauch' (called 'ramsons', 'bear garlic' or 'wild garlic', depending on where you live) in the nearby forest. now on baerlauch, we need a little excursus... i used to think it's available everywhere, around the world. but i was told otherwise... it's something utterly european, that's not native in the americas. sorry, guys! but, instead, you've got the 'ramps', which i would love to lay my hands on, as i believe roasting them must be amazing! sadly, it's not available around here in switzerland... so anyway...
so yes, we went to pick baerlauch, tons of it, really, and brought it home. oh, the sweet joy of picking stuff in the spring woods, with a basket, and to breathe in the clean air. once home, we cleaned it, patted it dry gently and blended it together with the best extra virgin olive oil (from the provence) and the best sea salt (from the guérande) to make a smooth, pesto-like paste out of it: 'baerlauch paste', as we call it. or 'wild garlic oil' - if you want.
now a whole lot of baerlauch can be rather overpowering, too spicey and too strong. so rather, you'll just use a dollop of the oil and mix it with the pasta of your choice. the rest went into sterilized glass jars, was covered with a layer of the olive oil and went in the fridge. there, it will keep for up to a year (if you make sure to keep covering it with a fresh layer of olive oil every time you use it). it's great in any salad dressing, salsa or sauce, really. it's a bit of my mom's secret; and she does make the best salad dressing.
and while we were at it, we also threw in some dandelion buds (yes, you read correctly...) that we fried, seasoned with a little sea salt and arranged over the pasta. it was a delicious, really surprising little meal, beyond comparison. i wish spring would last longer, so that we could have dandelions in every meal. but maybe, my hay fever (that i've only recently developed, it appears... ugh...) will be happy when either spring is over (sorry, guys, but this sneezing and nose blowing and eyes running and itching... it kind of sucks...) or the rain is washing everything down. or i'll just keep on dreaming of a cold shower and want to scratch out my eyes all day, no problem. for as long as there a forest feast every day.
linguini with baerlauch (wild garlic / ramps) paste & roasted dandelion buds
for the ramsons paste:
3 cups ramsons leaves, cleaned and patted dry
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
more olive oil to cover the paste
sterilized glass jars
clean the ramsons and pat it dry with paper towels (you'll need a lot of that). chop it up, coarsely, with a knife. put it in a food processor together with the oil and salt. blend until you have a smooth paste. season with more salt and add more oil if necessary. fill into sterile glass jars, fill up with a layer of olive oil and seal. put in the fridge and use to pimp your dressings, salsas, sauces, pasta, potatoes, vegs or sandwiches, even. just don't think about the bad breath, because 1) it's entirely worth it and 2) there is always bubble gum...
for the dandelion buds:
1 cup dandelion buds (really just pick the little buds at the bottom of the dandelions, between the leaves)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. fleur de sel
clean the dandelion buds, remove potential sturdy outer leaves and pat dry, thoroughly. heat the olive oil in a skillet, and when it's hot fry the dandelions for 2-3 minutes (they kind of make a popping sound as they go and explode a bit, which is fun to watch; the yellow flower part comes out a bit more after frying). season with fleuer de sel.
cook pasta of your choice (we used linguini) in salted water al dente, put back into the saucepan (don't shake of excess water, as it will keep the pasta moist). add 1 tbsp. of the ramsons paste already, and stir to coat all the pasta. arrange on a plate, and sprinkle with some more of the green, delicious paste (but be gentle... it's very fragrant). add a few of the precious little dandelion buds and serve immediately. try (and fail...) not to become addicted.