Vegan wild garlic pesto

Vegan wild garlic pesto

vegan wild garlic pesto jar

When hiking the hills of North Devon recently, we noticed that the forest had a mild chive-like aroma to it. We looked around and realised why. Every single patch of soil that hadn’t already been taken by the trees was overgrown with wild garlic (also known as ramsons). Its delicate, pointy leaves looked gorgeous scalloped on top of each other, creating an intensely green, dense carpet on the forest floor.

I got really excited about incorporating it into my cooking but, as luck would have it, it chucked it down on the morning of our departure and given that it was already very muddy when the weather was dry(-ish), we decided against wild garlic picking in such miserable weather. Oh well, maybe we will come across it elsewhere, we thought.

The next day I went running in the small woods near my house and I was astounded to see it overgrown with the very plant I had to go all the way to Devon to notice on my own doorstep. I was amazed how I managed that. I came up with a plan and a few days later, equipped in a pair of grippy shoes and a pair of scissors, I went wild garlic foraging.

It was a bit tricky as since the woods are frequented by all sorts of dogs, big and small, I had to climb onto the muddy banks in order to find healthy looking specimens that hadn’t been trodden on (or worse 😉 ) . It was slippery, so a bit precarious, but I was hooked. I even got heckled by one lady, who as soon as she saw me, announced loudly that she doesn’t like garlic and does not understand why people are going so crazy for it. ‘What are you going to do with it, petal?’ she asked…’Pesto’, I replied, thinking that she probably won’t approve of that either…Tough crowd!

Even though this wasn’t something I set out to do here, this pesto is done on a shoestring with nature’s gift of wild garlic leaves and pumpkin seeds, which happen to be dirt cheap (especially in comparison to the classically used pine nuts, which you would need to remortgage your house to buy 😉 ). The only premium ingredient is extra virgin olive oil but you are welcome to replace it with another type of neutral-tasting oil instead. This pesto is delicious on pasta, steamed spring veggies, drizzled into hummus, dolloped over a soup or smothered over boiled new potatoes. However you chose to have it, make it please – it will put a smile on your face, promise!

vegan wild garlic pesto key ingredients

vegan wild garlic pesto food processor

wild garlic bunch

vegan wild garlic pesto olive oil topping

makes
240 ml / 1 cup
PREP
10 min
COOKING
5 min
makes
240 ml / 1 cup
PREPARATION
10 min
COOKING
5 min
INGREDIENTS
  • 65 g / ½ cup pumpkin kernels / pepitas*
  • 100 g / 3.5 oz wild garlic leaves**
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, zest and juice
  • ½ tsp salt, more to taste
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 120 ml / ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • a generous pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
METHOD
  1. Wash wild garlic leaves really well and dry them in a salad spinner (if you have one), blot them with a kitchen towel or simply leave to air-dry.
  2. Dry-roast the pumpkin kernels in a hot pan on a low-medium heat. While they are toasting, they’ll making crackling noises, some seeds will start getting golden brown and the skin on some varieties will crack. Make sure you stir them the entire time as they burn very easily. Allow them to cool down completely before blending in the pesto.
  3. Place all the pesto ingredients apart from the olive oil and chilli flakes into a food processor. I used 4 tbsp / ¼ cup of lemon juice in my pesto, as I like things to be lemony, so you may want to adjust the amount to your taste. Process until chopped small and then start trickling in olive oil while the motor is going.
  4. Add chilli flakes to taste and adjust the seasoning to your linking.
  5. Transfer the pesto to a clean jar and top with an extra tablespoon of olive oil to prevent mould from setting in. Store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.

NOTES
*Many nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios and hazelnuts) or hemp seeds or sunflower seeds will work well too.

**Please familiarise yourself with the shape and smell of wild garlic leaves before you set out as it is quite similar to another plant, lily of the valley, which is deadly poisonous.

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NUTRITIONAL INFO
calories
153
8%
sugars
0 g
0%
fats
15 g
21%
saturates
2 g
11%
proteins
2 g
5%
carbs
1 g
1%
*per serving
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5.0
13 reviews, 28 comments
REVIEWS & QUESTIONS
Nicki:
Made for my family, 3 of which eat meat and dairy and are not always happy to eat my vegan food! However, all agreed it was really tasty and the Parm was not missed a bit. Super simple and quick to make and I personally loved the sub of pumpkin seeds for pine nuts. Will definitely be making in the future.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you for your kind words, Nicki! I'm delighted to hear that you and your non-vegan family members enjoyed this pesto and that you plan to make it again. x Ania
Karl Bartlett:
I made this with pine nuts, but everything else as per the recipie. It suppased my expectations and was so delicious. Thank you
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks so much, Karl! I'm delighted to hear that and thanks for taking the time to leave a review - much appreciated. Ania
Donna:
Absolutely delicious. I can’t wait to pick some more wild garlic to make some more. I used pine nuts , although they are expensive I love them.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks Donna! Lovely to hear! Yes, you cannot go wrong with pine nuts, definitely. x Ania
Toni:
I just made some today (out of both wild garlic and a thinner type of wild garlic :) ). It tastes super-nice! I have a lot of wild garlic leftover though, any other uses for it, you think?Also, funnily enough, my Italian friend/housemate h a t e s garlic. 🤣 I'm like, "but you're Italian!" Hehe.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks Toni, I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed it and maybe, just maybe, you'll be able to convert you garlic-hating Italian housemate ;) I mean, surely they won't be able to resist a good pesto? I do have a few other wild garlic recipes like these ravioli, wild garlic tarts or this simple wild garlic pasta with zucchini. Hope you'll enjoy these too! x Ania
Kasia:
This is my second wild garlic season with your recipe, and we are literally wild for it! ;) It never lasts more than a few days since we eat it with everything. I'm lucky I can even buy it at the supermarket, if I can't go on a hike :) Dzięki Aniu!
    Ania
    Ania:
    So happy to hear that, Kasia and so jealous - I don't think it is growing here yet although I will check tomorrow. Thank you for taking the time to let me know that you have enjoyed this recipe - I really appreciate it! x Ania
Marianne:
I have made the wild garlic pesto last year and will do so again this spring 2021. It is a well balanced recipe and even the grandchildren like it! (Not a fan of chilli so I ommitted the chilli!)
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you, Marianne! I'm delighted to hear that! x Ania
Fern:
The best wild Garlic Pesto recipe! Tried and tested over a number of years. This year used cashews, lovely results. Can literally eat it by the mouthful! Thank you so much
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you, Fern! I'm so happy to hear that! I cannot wait for wild garlic season this year! x Ania
Jan:
Great recipe thank you! Really delicious flavours and affordable with pumpkin seeds
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks Jan, I'm really happy to hear that! Ania
Danielle:
Delicious recipe, even though I made it with macadamia nuts and no nutritional yeast - our cupboards are quite bare at the moment! Also added about a teaspoon of Umeboshi paste as I’ve seen other vegan pesto recipes use this - really gives it a salty, umami tang. Just bear in mind you likely won’t need extra salt if you use this. Thanks, Ania!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks, Danielle. I am delighted to hear that you enjoyed this recipe and great thinking on your feet with all the replacements - a bit of necessity right now. Ania
Lucy Cottle:
I'm in love with this! Weve had it with pasta, stirred through cooked peas and just had some on a poached egg with spinach on toast. Scrummy! I'm trying to work a way of preserving so we can have this delight through the year. If I sterilised jars fill to the top and top with olive oil, seal and keep cool and dark what do you think the chances are if the oil has a long shelf life?.... x
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Lucy,I'm delighted to hear that you enjoy it so much. I am not sure about keeping it in the cupboard - I worry that mould will get it despite the protective film of oil. I freeze it in ice cube trays and defrost one by one as I need. Hope that helps! Ania
Priti:
Hi AniaI made a version of wild garlic chutney inspired by your wild garlic pesto recipe. It turned out really delicious. It’s a great plant and I use it in everything at the moment. Thank you for the idea.
    Ania
    Ania:
    My pleasure, Priti. Chutney sounds just as delicious! x Ania
raili:
I have frozen pesto successfully for many years. I can keep enough till the next season that way . It keeps the colour and flavour well !
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks for sharing!
Malinder:
Dear Ania - can the pesto be frozen? Thank you.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Malinder,I have not tried freezing it, but I don't see why not! Ania
karl bartlett:
I made this exactly as the recipe suggests and it was wonderful. Full of delicious flavours, the garlic restrained by the nutty pumpkin seeds and the lemon kick is just right. The extra bite from the chillies is good. I served it with roasted pine nuts and grated Vegan hard scheese. Fantastic, I'm making more already. Definately worth a full 5 stars! Well done Ania.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks so much, Karl! I'm delighted to hear that! x Ania
sorina:
hi, I've been thinking of making my own pesto, but never dared as I find it too complicated. this convinced me to give it a go. as they say, food tastes better when it comes with a story. can you freeze this?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Yes, it definitely does! Plus it's dead easy, I swear! I have not tried freezing pesto though so not 100% sure on that. It keeps for a long time in the fridge provided you top it up with olive oil so that there is a layer of it on top of pesto - the oil prevents the mould growth. Good luck! Ania
Ingrid:
Estoy fascinada con tu página!!!... recién la encuentro y me parece genial. Gracias por compartir tus recetas y sin duda estaré comentando por acá . Saludos!
Lili:
Where do you find Garlic leaves? Do you think I can leave out the oil or what would you substitute for it?
    Ania
    Ania:
    I picked it in a forest. Oil is pretty crucial for the consistency and it makes pesto cling to the pasta better so I would advise against skipping it, but perhaps you could use a ripe avocado instead. Ania
Sandra:
Spot on. Thank you so much for the recipe.
    Ania
    Ania:
    You're very welcome. I'm glad you liked it! Ania
Albert Bevia:
That is an awesome story about finding the wild garlic leaves, kinda funny that lady would even care what you or anyone else would be so crazy for garlic, I have never had wild garlic leaves, but now I´m intrigued, plus I love pesto! great post
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks, Albert! If you are a garlic fiend, I urge you to look for them - wild garlic pesto is soooo delicious, on EVERYTHING ;) Ania
VeganJoe:
Hello! What can be used instead of wild garlic leaves?
    Ania
    Ania:
    There are lots of options, Joe! Basil, mint, parsley, rocket, kale, spinach (or a combination of these) are the most common. You could also make pesto from things like carrot tops and or nettles. You may also want to add 1-2 cloves of garlic (depending on your taste) if not using wild garlic. Hope that helps! Ania
David Pilkington:
Works well. I have a nut allergy & don’t get on with pine nuts. Very pleasantly surprised at the taste & texture Created a simple but very tasty pasta dish
    Ania
    Ania:
    I'm delighted to hear that, David! :) Thanks! Ania
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