I love making this vegan Wild Garlic Pesto every year. To me, it means Spring truly has sprung. It's so GREEN and the flavour is a deliciously pungent essence of garlic that somehow also manages to taste of pure Spring. It's simple to make and goes on all kinds of Spring dishes, so I know you'll love making it too.
I first tried wild garlic a few years ago in Germany, (In German it is called Bärlauch) and thought it was one of those cool German/ Northern European But when I moved to the country, I found a HUGE patch of it right near my house. Hurrah!
Wild garlic, also known as Ramsons and Ramps is a relatively new thing to me, it doesn't grow in Australia where I grew up, but here in the UK, it's a common Springtime woodland plant. So this recipe, Vegan Wild Garlic Pesto has become somewhat of a Springtime seasonal obsession.
Wild Garlic Pesto is delicious swirled into this Pesto & Pea Risotto or turned into Wild Garlic Hummus. It tastes great in place anywhere you would use other pesto. For example, I like to blob it onto a Spring Greens Minestrone Soup, you can also use it to top toasts or smear on Garlic Bread, or add it to a simple pasta in place of other sauce like in this Garlicky Cavolo Nero Pasta.
🌱What is Wild Garlic?
Wild garlic or Ramsons (Allium Ursinum) is a bulb that grows in woodlands across the UK, Europe and North America in Spring. It's a sign of old established woodland, so be sure to look around and appreciate the area when you find some! It's a really easy plant to forage because the smell and taste is so distinctive.
Did you know that it's sometimes also called Bear Garlic or Bear Leek (Bärlauch) because bears like to eat the bulbs! Cute.
Anyway, if you're foraging for it, be sure not to confuse it with Lily of the Valley (which smells completely different and not at ALL like garlic). When foraging, take only what you need and don't pull it out by the bulb.
You can eat the stems, leaves, flowers, and flower buds. For this pesto, we use the stems and leaves. I like to decorate spring dishes with its pretty white flowers.
- Wild Garlic - You can forage your own, or sometimes it's available in farmers' markets.
- Olive Oil- Good Quality Olive oil is a must for blending the pesto.
- Nutritional Yeast- This takes the place of traditional cheese in pesto. It's high in B vitamins and adds a delicious umami flavour.
- Pine Nuts OR Walnuts- Either nut is delicious when making this pesto. I have also tried making it with pistachios which was so yummy.
- Salt- A little flakey sea salt or kosher salt.
👩🍳How to make
- Once you have gathered your wild garlic, check it over and discard any leaves that are marked or dirty. Wash it well and allow to dry.
- Toast the nuts in a dry pan.
- Add the nuts and nutritional yeast to a blender or food processor and pulse.
- Add in the wild garlic leaves and stems. Pulse for a minute.
- Gradually add in the olive oil and blend. I like to leave a bit of texture to my wild garlic pesto, but blend until desired.
- Add salt to taste.
This pesto stores well in a clean jar in the fridge for up to a week. Pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top of the pesto to keep it fresher for longer.
If you want to preserve the fresh pesto for longer, put tablespoons of it in an ice-cube tray and freeze. Once frozen, pop the little bricks of pesto out, put into freezer bag and back in the freezer. Now you have pesto ready to use for months!
🧀Variations and Substitutions
- Lemon juice or zest- if you like your pesto a little tangier and brighter tasting, add some lemon.
- No Nuts: use sunflower or pumpkin seeds to replace the nuts. Or omit altogether.
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese: Swap the nutritional yeast for a commercial vegan parmesan cheese.
- Other Herbs: Of course you can use other herbs to make this pesto, or to add to it if you only can find a small amount of wild garlic. Parsley or Basil are delicious.
🌱Wild Garlic Pesto FAQ
You can find it in shady wooded areas that are often on a slope or near a stream. Or find it seasonally at Farmer's Markets.
Yes it is! It's also known as bear garlic (Bärlauch in German) or broad leaved garlic .
Cut the top part only. Don't pick it from the bulb, to ensure you leave some that will regrow next year. And only pick what you need! Try to pick away from paths where dogs might have been doing their business. And always wash it!
You can use pumpkin or sunflower seeds, cashew nuts, almonds or walnuts.
If you put a layer of olive oil over the top, it lasts for about a week in the fridge. I also freeze it in ice cube trays, then pop out the frozen cubes and keep in a container in the freezer ready to put into pasta or risottos.
Wild garlic pesto is used in all these yummy dishes: Try one and let us know what you think!
Wild Garlic Pesto & Pea Risotto- Vegan
Vegan Asparagus & Pesto Quiche
Asparagus with New Potatoes & Vegan Wild Garlic Pesto
Vegan Wild Garlic Pesto
For accuracy, I measure all ingredients in metric as standard, then convert and test the recipe for American cup measurements etc.
(Heads up Aussie and UK readers- your measurements in cups are sometimes different, so please use metric or check you have the correct cup and spoon type!!)
- 150 g (1 cups) wild garlic (about two big handfuls, stems included)
- 50 g (½ cups) Pine nuts (you can also use walnuts, cashew nuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds. )
- 3 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive oil
- 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon Maldon or Kosher Salt
- Make sure you wash, then wash again the wild garlic as there will be gritty bits, and no one wants gritty pesto. Dry thoroughly150 g wild garlic
- Toast the nuts or seeds in a dry frying pan.50 g Pine nuts
- Add the nuts and nutritional yeast to a food processor or blender and pulse.2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- Now add everything else to a food processer and blitz.3 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive oil, 1 teaspoon Maldon or Kosher Salt
- Stop every now and then and scrape down the sides of the processer
- Blitz until smooth- taste for salt
- Transfer to a glass jar & add a bit of olive oil over the top
- Keep in the fridge and use in everything!
The pesto is brilliant. Great on bread. Such a fresh taste. Better than my efforts with Wild Garlic bulbs... Great to find a native alternative to basil that flourishes here.
So pleased you like it Guy! I'm going to make a another huge batch this week. The jar I featured here has mysteriously emptied 😉
Amy Barclay says
How long does this last in the fridge?
Louise-Claire Cayzer says
If you put a layer of oil (to preserve) this lasts up to 2 weeks. I like to save it for longer by spooning into icecube trays and freezing. Just thaw as many cubes as you need to use.
Louise-Claire Cayzer says
It lasts for a week or so if you cover it in oil (which forms a layer against the air & prevents bacteria growing). I also freeze it in ice cube trays to use later in the year. . 1 cube = 1 TBS. ..
What a great find! I have never come across wild garlic either (in NZ)...but will keep an eye out for it now x
Let me know if you do find some! I think it might be quite invasive, so maybe hasn't been introduced to the Southern Hemisphere. You could probably sub garlic chives... or a mix of garlic chives and nettles.
Julie Small says
Ha ha love this story! Your pesto looks delicious. I am a huge garlic fan but never tried wild garlic. Lucky you to have such a patch so close to home.
So pleased you love the story! I'm going to make a mega batch this afternoon as the season is coming to an end... sadly! The jar I made last week has completely disappeared!
Sooooo good! I have found the mother-of-all wild garlic caches in Leicestershire and will be making this every year.
Lucky lucky you! We have a nice patch here but it's a bit slow coming up this year!
The back of my garden is full of wild garlic. Help, it’s beginning to invade the flower beds.
Friends are coming to gather some today.
In Greater London.
Louise-Claire Cayzer says
Oh lucky you! It can be a bit of a thug, but it's SO tasty I forgive it. Make lots of pesto and enjoy the short season! (I like the pretty flowers too...)