If you’re lucky enough to come across wild garlic – or ramps – in spring, making wild garlic pesto is the easiest and most delicious way to make the most of this gorgeous seasonal ingredient. It takes just 5 minutes and freezes well so you can enjoy the flavour of spring year-round.
It’s a sure sign spring has finally arrived when the wild garlic starts appearing! These gorgeous, bright green, subtly aromatic leaves are one of my favourite seasonal ingredients and I love to make the most of them during the limited time I can get my hands on them.
If you’re lucky, you can forage for wild garlic in parks, but you can also pick it up at farmer’s markets and some online retailers – in the UK, Able & Cole, Riverford and Ocado tend to stock it. Wherever you find it, always make sure you’re washing the leaves thoroughly before using it.
Like with any pesto, this wild garlic pesto is incredibly versatile. Dollop it onto salads, toss through pasta or potato salad (or pasta salad), spoon it on top of soups, use it in grilled cheese sandwiches, toss it through roasted veggies…the opportunities really are endless here.
Aside from the wild garlic, everything you need for this pesto is easy to find at a regular store and there are some simple swaps you can make if need be.
- Wild garlic leaves (ramps). These lovely bright green leaves are only in season for a couple of weeks every year, and I LOVE making the most of them when they’re available. Their flavour isn’t as strong as regular garlic cloves, but they still bring a lovely garlicky scent and fragrance.
- Sunflower seeds. Pine nuts are the traditional choice for pesto, but they tend to be expensive. I like using sunflower seeds, but you could use cashews, hazelnuts, almonds or pumpkin (pepita) seeds too.
- Lemon juice. This is crucial for freshening up the pesto and giving a lovely tart flavour. Try to use fresh lemon juice if possible, otherwise, bottled is fine.
- Parmesan. Use Grada padano or pecorino in place of the parmesan if you like, or leave it out (or add a little nutritional yeast) for a vegan version.
How to make it
Add your wild garlic leaves, grated parmesan, lemon juice, salt and toasted sunflower seeds into the bowl of a food processor. Blitz into a bright green paste, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Blitz until it reaches your desired consistency, then taste and season with a little more salt and lemon juice if you like.
Got a question?
This is all to do with oxidization (air touching the blitzed-up greens). Lemon juice helps to counteract this, but you can also place a piece of clingfilm directly on top of the pesto in your storage container, and then secure the lid. This way, there’s no chance for any air to get in to discolour the top layer of pesto.
Pine nuts are the classic choice, though they tend to be expensive. You can also use hazelnuts, cashews, almonds or pumpkin (pepita) seeds.
Yes! It freezes really well. You can freeze whole jars, or portion off small amounts (using an ice cube tray and then transferring the frozen pesto from the tray to ziplock bags is great) so that you can quickly and easily defrost it. It will last for at least 6 months in this way.
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If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you! You can leave me a comment below.Print