Recipe: Wild garlic pesto

Whilst on our yurt holiday a couple of weeks ago we found something fantastic. Carpets of wild garlic. It was growing along country lanes and in damp woodland next to rivers and streams.

Wild garlic patch

Carpet of wild garlic next to a stream

We could smell it before we saw it and with the help of our foraging book Food For Free, managed to successfully identify it as wild garlic (Ramsons).

Wild garlic flowers

Wild garlic flowers

Wild garlic leaves

Wild garlic leaves

Wild garlic pesto recipe

You will need:

  • A big bunch of wild garlic (enough to cover the bottom of a carrier bag)
  • Handful of parsley
  • 50g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 50g toasted walnuts or pine nuts
  • 100ml olive oil / 150ml for thinner pesto
  • Lemon juice of 1/2 a lemon (or to taste)

I didn’t add salt to this recipe because the parmesan contains quite a bit and the wild garlic was really fresh so it had lots of flavour.

1. Wash your wild garlic

Pick out the healthiest, freshest leaves and rinse with cold water to remove bugs and dirt.

Carrier bag of wild garlic leaves

Foraged wild garlic leaves

Tip: make double sure you haven’t accidentally picked any weeds by sniffing the leaves (for garlic smell) before you rinse them. Also see ‘identifying wild garlic’ at the bottom of this post.

2. Toast your walnuts

Lightly toast the walnuts but do not let them burn.

3. Put all your ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor.

Put the wild garlic leaves, toasted nuts, finely grated parmesan and lemon juice into the food processor and blitz into a paste.

Rough pesto paste

Rough wild garlic pesto paste

4. Add olive oil

With the motor running, slowly pour in your olive oil and blitz until thoroughly mixed. Add more lemon juice if required.

Wild garlic pesto in ramekin

Fresh wild garlic pesto

5. Enjoy fresh or freeze

This pesto freezes well although it has a milder garlic flavour once defrosted. If eating fresh, don’t breathe on anyone for a couple of hours afterwards…unless they’ve been eating it too of course.

Wild garlic pesto with crackers

If you don’t want to make pesto with your wild garlic leaves, chop them up and add to risotto, pasta or stir fry. You can also make your own alioli style sauce by mixing chopped wild garlic leaves, mayonnaise and lemon juice.

Identifying wild garlic

Wild garlic is also known as Allium ursinum and Ramsons.

Crush the leaves slightly with your nail to see if they smell of garlic. Be careful not to pick the leaves of weeds or other plants growing in the same place. Do not mistake wild garlic for Lily of the Valley, which is poisonous. If you can’t confidently identify a plant (and the leaves) as wild garlic, do not eat it.

4 Comments

  1. Steven Wake

    Look amazing Gemma. I hope I get the opportunity one day to find wild garlic and give your recipe a go

    • @Steven Thanks! I hope you find some wild garlic too, it’s really tasty.

  2. We found some in a local wood, and used them with sausages in a bun, either the white bulbs lightly fried and chopped as a garnish, or the leaves in a salad. Delicious!

    I don’t know if they’ll still be in season, but I’d like to try your pesto recipe next time I come across some.

    • @Simon You might just be able to catch the end of the season now as the weather has been quite cold and wet. Wild garlic in a sausage bun sounds amazing, I’m sure Scott would be up for trying that 🙂

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