Foraging for Pesto

I stared at the little bundle of green leaves in the shop. £2.79 for 50g is ridiculous for wild garlic! In spring the forest is carpeted with it. I could step outside with my eyes closed and still be able to pick handfuls of the leaves just based on smell. It should not cost much for something that grows so abundantly in the forest and is so easy to identify. Mustard garlic, wild garlic and chives, all have a strong garlicky smell when crushed and can easily be found in most green spaces. And don’t worry about over picking as you always find it in great swathes. Just be sure to wash it before using.

This lovely plant can be used in so many dishes, like soups, pesto, stuffed in fish, used to marinate meat, the list goes on and on. But maybe don’t eat it right before a first date as it lingers on the breath.

All ingredients ready for blending

Yields: 6 portions

Time: 10 minutes


20g Pumpkin seeds (toasted)

15g Parmesan cheese

40g wild garlic

½ lime zest

50ml olive oil




  1. Place the pumpkin seeds into a dry frying pan and toast for 5 minutes or until the seeds start to curve slightly. Take out and chop.
  2. Place the washed wild garlic, chopped pumpkin seeds, parmesan cheese, lime zest, a pinch of salt and pepper into a blender. Add the oil in small amounts while blending to achieve a smooth paste. Remember to scrape down the sides with a spatula to ensure no lumps.
  3. Add to warm cooked pasta and sprinkle extra cheese on top. Can be stored in the fridge for a week in an airtight container.
All twisted up. You can see a tomato and wood sorrel salad that I picked along with the wild garlic

Foragers’ tip: Wild garlic, also known as Ramsons, grows in damp woods and hedgebanks in early March. Leaves a broad and spear-like up to 50cm long. Flowers are white and star-shaped. When leaves, flower or stem are crushed, a smell of garlic is released.

I recommend Food For Free (Collins Gem) as a good starting reference book as its small and can easily be carried with you while out walking and can be used to help identify plants.

Wild garlic often grows in large groups
Leaves are smooth and slightly curve outwards. Are pale green when young and are darker in colour when they mature. 
Pale white flower. Later in the season, the pettles fall of leaving small green lumps.

Disclaimer: Foraging for food is at your own risk. If you are not 100% sure of the plant, don’t pick it.

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