As we slip into winter most wild greens are receding back into the ground to await warmer weather, but not the Wild Leek...
Despite it’s Mediterranean heritage, this invasive allium family member thrives in damp, shaded areas and is available from mid autumn to early spring and depending on where you are in the country can be sourced throughout all but the harshest parts of winter. A great winter ingredient for the seasonal forager!
As its common name suggests, the long light green leaves have three points or corners forming a V shape, with white flowers similar to Bluebells hanging vertically from the long flower stem in clusters reminiscent of little lamp shades. Much like it’s relative Wild Garlic (Allium Ursinum) one of it’s key identification points is it’s strong allium/onion-y smell from the leaves when crushed or torn
All parts of the plant are edible from the bulb to the flowers and seeds and, much like Wild Garlic it's the leaf which is of most use in the kitchen not only as it tends to grow in huge swathes but also because of it's versatility
TCL makes a great pesto, soup, salad addition, side dish when wilted with some butter, lacto fermented (a foragers favourite) as a spinach substitute. The buds pickle very well and the flowers help to liven up salads, soups and sandwiches.
Care needs to be taken not to confuse the plant during late Winter or early Spring as the leaves could be confused with other plants growing in similar habitats such as bluebells or snowdrops which are poisonous but both lack the cornered leaf and pungent Leek smell. During the Winter months however not much else is growing so shouldn't present too much of a problem.