How to make wild garlic pesto

Wild garlic is a popular plant for foraging as it can be used in a variety of ways, and is usually found in abundance. Chris Naylor shares his recipe for making wild garlic pesto.

Wild garlic pesto. © DUSAN ZIDAR/Shutterstock.com

Wild garlic Allium ursinum, also known as ramsons, grows in forests and woody areas in most parts of the northern hemisphere from around March to June. Due to is distinctive smell you can usually smell it before you see it!

Both the leaves and flowers of wild garlic are edible. The leaves can be eaten raw or used in sauces and soups; the flowers, which bloom later in the season, make great additions to salads.

Although picking wild flowers is generally frowned upon, due to the natural abundance of wild garlic, the removal of a few leaves and flowers from a wide area will not have a detrimental impact.

Wild garlic in bloom in a forest in Gloucestershire, UK. © Stephen Shepherd/Getty
Wild garlic in bloom in a forest in Gloucestershire, UK. © Stephen Shepherd/Getty

Take care

The leaves of wild garlic look very similar to lords and ladies Arum maculatum and lily of the valley Convallaria majalis (pictured),both of which are very poisonous. However neither species smells like garlic. 

Lily of the valley is a sweetly scented, highly poisonous woodland flowering plant. © Jacky Parker Photography/Getty
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You Will Need

  • Wild garlic leaves (80g)
  • Parmesan - grated
  • Pine nuts - optional (30g)
  • Olive oil (3 tbsp)
  • Lemon juice - to taste
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh pasta or tomatoes - sliced (400g)

Step 1

Wash the garlic leaves thoroughly and pat dry.

Fresh wild garlic leaves. © Westend61/Getty
Fresh wild garlic leaves. © Westend61/Getty

Step 2

Put the garlic, Parmesan, pine nuts and oil in a blender and blitz until smooth. Alternatively, crush by hand with a pestle and mortar.

Grated Parmesan cheese. © Krisztina Kantor Toth/EyeEm/Getty
Grated Parmesan cheese. © Krisztina Kantor Toth/EyeEm/Getty

Step 3

Then add the lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Add more oil if you prefer pesto with a thinner consistency.

Wild garlic pesto. © Westend61/Getty
Wild garlic pesto. © Westend61/Getty

Step 4

Mix the pesto into fresh pasta and serve, or drizzle over sliced tomatoes for a zingy salad.

Wild garlic pesto on pasta. © aliasemma/Shutterstock.com
Wild garlic pesto on pasta. © aliasemma/Shutterstock.com
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Chris Naylor loves fresh air and adventure, and believes any day that doesn’t involve the great outdoors is a missed opportunity. He is passionate about inspiring others to get out into nature and to be curious about the world around them.

Chris Naylor pic

This is a recipe from Go Wild: Find freedom and adventure in the great outdoors by Chris Naylor, published by Summersdale.