homemade pesto manufacture
Children, Food, Making stuff

Repost: wild garlic pesto

I wrote this post 3 years ago but it's the perfect time of year to share it again as the wild garlic is just coming into bloom (where I am at least). I love wild garlic pesto and there's so much you can do with it! 

Also, I'm very very busy this weekend so haven't had time to write a proper post. Shhhh, cheating with a bit of reuse.

Let me repeat the warning to really be sure you're using wild garlic as there are other plants that look very similar but are poisonous. 

About wild garlic

The first time I encountered wild garlic was on a walk along the river near Cromford Mill. We came round a corner and into a heady ether of garlic fumes rising from a huge patch of beautiful white flowers, looking almost like a dusting of snow over their glossy green leaves. It was a stunning sensory experience.

Since then every time I spot wild garlic I try to remember for the following spring so that I can harvest some. Its taken five years, and a house move, for me to manage it.

This year, we’ve been out and about more than usual and I’ve become much more familiar with our local habitats and patches. There’s one on the way to school and another on the path through woods to our town park.

Last week, we went and picked some, only to get home and wonder what to do with it. We garnished salmon pasta and sesame sticky chinese chicken.

Having gone back for some more, large boy and I set about making some pesto.

We’re going to make the family classic of pasta pesto with peas and chicken on Monday night. Thus large boy will tick off a task for his Cubs chef badge (as well as communicator and naturalist).

A warning

Wild garlic can be mixed up with a couple of other plants that can be poisonous. Notably, Lily of the Valley and Lords and Ladies. If you’re foraging, I would recommend making sure each leaf smells garlicky and only taking leaves from plants with the distinctive flower heads so that you’re absolutely sure of what you’re picking. If you want some more guidance, I recommend Totally Wild UK.


150g wild garlic (makes loads, 2 jam jars) you can also use mustard garlic aka Jack by the Hedge. See below for a picture of wild garlic to help you identify it.

50g finely grated parmesan

50g pine nuts

A squirt of garlic purée

1/2 lemon zest and juice

150ml walnut oil (or rapeseed, olive, or whatever)

Put everything except the oil in a big food processor and whizz until quite smooth. Then add the oil and whizz some more.

Should keep for 2 weeks in the fridge, so put it in some smaller jars and share with your friends and neighbours.

This made two decent-sized jam jars for us, if we’d used supermarket pesto jars it would easily have done four I think. The colour is stunning!

Using wild garlic pesto: recipes

Pasta Pesto

Yeah, this really is as simple as it sounds. We just boiled some penne until tender and fried off some left over roast chicken til it was a little bit charred. After draining the pasta, I stirred through two generous tablespoons (cooking for 2 adults and 2 children) of wild garlic pesto and chucked in a gloop (that’s an official unit of measure) of double cream. We served in pasta bowls with a bit of parmesan grated over the pasta and then topped with the chicken. I probably should have put some peas through the pasta for a bit of veg daily allowance but it was one of those days when we needed a super quick tea and honestly, I forgot.


I think I had the exact same lunch every day for two weeks after I made the first batch of pesto this year. So simple, but so delicious. A small wrap with a big dollop of hummus (whatever type takes you fancy, I did this using plain, roasted pepper or caramelised onion) smeared down the middle, then a teaspoon of wild garlic pesto smoothed over and topped with halved baby plum tomatoes. Disappeared from my plate in less than 2 minutes.

Salmon with pesto, smashed potatoes and rainbow vegetables

For this one, I took inspiration from a BBC Good Food recipe. I did the potatoes differently, I think I saw a video on Facebook or something with smashed roasted potatoes and they looked amazing. In the event, they day I made this I ended up working til half past 5 and then had to get the kids from after school club as himself was in a webinar until 6pm. So it was all a bit rushed.

I put baby potatoes in the microwave (stabbed them first) for 5 minutes on high. While they whirred around, I placed the salmon on a baking tray and got the oven up to gas mark 6 (200C I think, 400F) and slathered each fillet in a good rounded teaspoon of pesto, with a bit more for luck. Once the potatoes pinged in the microwave I put them in a bowl with a slosh of olive oil and some coarse sea salt and stirred around to coat them. Then I added the potatoes to the baking tray and squished each one with a small glass, the skins split so they each looked like a little pacman. Then the tray went in the oven for 20 minutes and I sliced an orange pepper, courgette, and onions (should have included a red pepper but that got eaten the day before). I fried the veg off in olive oil with a pinch of salt and a dash of lemon juice. Magic, tea was on the table about quarter past 6, only half an hour after getting home. Even better, the boys cleaned their plates quickly too!

Green quiche

Lastly, something a bit more involved and best not attempted if you’re in a rush. Proper recipe time….


  • 4 rashers of bacon, chopped into little pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 pack pre-rolled pastry (I’m really lazy when it comes to pastry)
  • 120g grated gruyere cheese
  • 1 big tablespoon wild garlic pesto
  • Baby plum tomatoes, halved


  1. Preheat the oven to whatever the pastry packet says, mine was gas 5/180C/350F.
  2. Line a pastry dish, one with wiggly edges is best, and put the pastry in it, trim the edges and then top with a bit more baking paper and some baking beads (I didn’t have any so put a plate in, didn’t work great). Blind bake according to the instructions – for mine this was 12 mins and then 5 mins more without the baking beads (or plate) and baking paper.
  3. Chop the bacon and onion up small and start frying off in a little olive oil. You want it to just start to brown the onion and for the bacon to go crispy, so not too much oil.
  4. Meanwhile, beat together 4 eggs and add the pesto and beat until smooth and all mixed in. Then season and add the cheese to the eggy mixture.
  5. Once the pastry is blind baked, take it out of the oven and turn the temperature down a bit (my pastry packet had a quiche recipe on the side and said to turn down to gas 3, but my oven is a little odd so I only went to gas 4).
  6. Load the pastry, first with the bacon and onion, then with the egg mixture. Finally, decorate with the tomato halves, with the insides of the tomatoes facing up so the juices don’t escape and make the egg and pastry soggy underneath.
  7. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. In the meantime I started to boil some new potatoes with a bit of mint.
  8. Then turn the oven back up to gas 6/200C/400F for 10 more minutes while the potatoes finish cooking and I did some broccoli stems too.

Voila! Himself had seconds and the boys cleaned their plates. I just about managed to salvage a small portion for me to have for lunch one day.

Twisted Leftovers

Being a lazy cook with warm fingers (well when they aren’t bloodless in temperatures under 15°C), I used bought pastry for my quiche and there was a good bit left over. So I rolled it out really thin, spread some pesto and grated gruyere over half, folded the other half on top and sliced into strips about 1.5cm wide. I pressed down and then twisted each strip into a helix, then laid them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven for 20mins at gas 6 (180C, 350F). Bingo, easy peasy cheesey pesto straws.

Anything else?

What are your favourite foraged recipes? Or pesto recipes that you could use wild garlic pesto in rather than the classic basil-based one? Let me know!

Love from Smell xxx

8 thoughts on “Repost: wild garlic pesto”

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