Every year, I try to get home to Cumbria in time for wild garlic season. This year we just caught the tail end of it – the leaves had grown large and mellow, and the plants were flowering – starbursts of white amongst the green. Many of the plants had gone over: wilting and browning at the edges, but we still picked a couple of bags worth between us, which I then carefully carried back to London.
I’m not sure much can beat wild garlic pesto – stirred into pasta, drizzled onto pizzas – but I love thinking up other ways to use it, too. This year I wanted something super simple – a midweek meal that still packed a punch, and this lemony aubergine rice ticked all the boxes. To make it outside of wild garlic season, replace the wild garlic with spinach, and add a large, finely chopped garlic clove to the onion and aubergine mix.
Ingredients (serves 2):
– 1 large onion, thinly sliced
– 1 aubergine, diced
– 25g pine nuts
– 150g basmati and wild rice mix
– 1 vegetable stock cube
– 50g wild garlic
– 1 lemon, zested, ½ juiced
1. Heat a splash of olive oil in a wok or large frying pan over a low-medium heat. Add the onion, aubergine and a pinch of salt, then cook, stirring regularly, for 20 mins, or until soft and caramelising. If they start to catch, reduce the heat to low.
2. Meanwhile, dry-fry the pine nuts in a saucepan for 2-3 mins until golden. Tip into a bowl and set aside. Put the rice in the saucepan and toast for 2 mins, then pour over boiling water to cover. Crumble in the stock cube and cook for 2 mins less than the time on the rice packet.
3. Wash the wild garlic, pat dry with kitchen paper then roughly shred and set aside. Drain the cooked rice, leave to steam-dry in a colander for 2 mins, then add to the wok with the aubergine mix. Increase the heat to medium-high and stir fry for 2 mins, then add the wild garlic and cook for another minute or so to heat through and wilt slightly. Season, squeeze over the lemon juice and divide between two bowls. Scatter with the toasted pine nuts and lemon zest to serve.