Long before I was familiar with  “ramps” or “ramsons” {or wild leek, spring garlic, and wild onion for that matter} I was visiting the honeybees in the wood with my father-in-law.  I wandered off to admire the babbling brook when I stepped on a plant and suddenly the scent of woodsy garlic hit the air with a vengeance.

I came back and explained what happened to Michael and he enlightened me by saying that the plant was ‘wild spring garlic’ and to him it was a bit of a nuisance. Especially if it grew near the bee hives.  {garlic honey anyone? Actually, that kinda sounds good!}

I went home that afternoon and secretly marveled over the idea of ‘wild spring garlic’.  The following weekend, the little farmer and I packed up a basket and the garden shovel and we went down to collect some of this chive-y plant to use in a soda bread recipe.

Nowadays, Geoffrey and I have an annual outing for ramsons. We have found their haven in the wood, where the flowering onion grows madly and looks like a blanket of snow amidst the ivy entangled trees.


We’ve done many things with these gems, wild garlic pesto is easy and lovely, wild garlic infused oil works perfectly, I’ve pickled the bulbs and used them for double dirty martinis. Today, I decided to throw them into our favourite go-to pasta. I usually use regular garlic and lemon zest, but switched it up with the ramsons and grapefruit zest. Wild garlic + grapefruit should really get a room together because they absolutely sing. Serve this simple pasta with rhubarb cordial like we did {or a lovely chilled rosé would be divine}


Irish Ramson + Kale + Grapefruit Linguine

Serves 4

200g Linguine {other any pasta, even asian rice noodles would be nice}
1 chicken or veg stock cube
2-3 tbsp of olive oil
2-3 large ramson bulbs {or 4-5 small}
Handful of ramson flowers {rinsed thoroughly}
200g of blanched kale
1 tbsp grapefruit zest (or lemon zest)
100g grated parmigiano-reggiano (or more to taste)

1. Boil water then add stock cube and linguine.
2. While linguine is cooking, sauté ramson bulbs in olive oil over low heat for 5
minutes until golden.
3. Add kale and cook for another 5 minutes, tossing together gently.
4. Stir in grapefruit zest and 1/2 of the parmesan.
5. Strain linguine, reserving 1/2 cup of stock liquid.
6. Add linguine and reserved liquid to sauté pan, stir through.
7. Serve with remaining parmigiano-reggiano and dress with ramson flowers.

I have a few bits of bacchanalia to share as well. First of all, Donal Skehan has just launched a magazine! Aptly titled FEAST, it is a dinner journal filled with delicious, beautifully photographed Irish food stories. I have recently been contributing recipes + photographs to the positively divine My Little Box, part of My Little Paris. For the moment, the boxes which are similar to the Birch Box, but also filled with a lifestyle +food magazine are only available in France and Belgium, but will soon be expanding to other parts of the world.  I recently discovered Mimi Thorsson’s magnificent Manger blog and can’t get enough of her gorgeously documented life of convivial food and family in France. Beth of  Local Milk blog came to visit Ireland last week and didn’t want to go home. She is a contestant on the new Masterchef series stateside, tune in! Another American girl/soon-to-be-an-Irish-farmer’s-wife shares her recipe for Kombucha. On a non-food related note, I have finally found a store in Ireland that rivals my lingerie lady at Bloomies. This is big news, I tell you.  Dublin Lingerie Co. is an online shop that sells pretty + quality underpinnings {that fit!}.

Slan Abhaile,


Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell 2013

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10 Responses to “Wild Irish Ramson + Kale + Grapefruit Linguine”

  1. Rosa says:

    Oh my god! I totally love the idea of flowers with pasta; I think have imagined this ever since my muses about what would make an ultimate romantic dinner.

    Garden beauty and kitchen creativity meet each other… It’s actually my dream to have access to such lifestyle. Great post with a bunch of lovely pictures! 🙂

  2. Tasneem says:

    I love wild garlic. My mother makes a dish with this, soft eggs and ground beef that is my ultimate comfort food. And the old wives’ tale that goes with it says it is good for treating coughs and colds.

  3. Have you ever steeped some sliced garlic in honey and eaten it as a remedy for a sore throat? There’s your garlic honey! Although I do think that the stuff made by the bees with wild garlic flowers might be more subtle…

  4. Krista says:

    What a marvelous discovery! 🙂 I still haven’t been able to find them in Oz, but I shall keep looking. 🙂 Love the idea of grapefruit and garlic together. Yum!! I love Manger too – so beautiful, so, so beautiful. 🙂

    • imen says:

      G+G are perfect together! Have you ever connected with Rohan Anderson…..Whole Larder Love? Thanks for your comment as always xx

  5. Imen! This is amazing sounding… a poetic dish, really. Such an inspiring combination…and I’m awfully envious of that garlic. Lord. And thanks for the shout out! Very kind of you. We really didn’t want to go home, absolutely day dreaming still. Can’t wait to post the photos… sifting through them currently as there are hundreds as you can imagine! I’m going to adapt this to what we’ve got around here… I think some Egyptian walking onion would stand in nicely & I think some of the honeysuckle cordial I’ve been brewing up like a mad woman would go great alongside! Your recipes always, always inspire me. You really have to come to TN!

    • imen says:

      THanks Beth! Honeysuckle cordial? I DIE. You must share the recipe as we’ve plenty of honeysuckle around here. I will def be coming to TN! We are planning a food tour of the south for next summer, all going well. Talk soon xx

  6. Hi there!

    I found you via an Instagram trail and have spent a bit of this rainy Saturday afternoon in NYC going through your archives—so enjoying your bucolic rambles and pretty posts. Can’t wait to read more!

    And, PS. garlic honey sounds amazing!

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