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Cooking at home: Foraged wild garlic pesto recipe

Here Cat Thomson shares her recipe for an easy-to-make wild garlic pesto.

Published: April 9, 2020

Living in the rural Scottish Borders means I'm lucky enough to be able to forage for wild garlic on my daily lockdown walk.

I've never made wild garlic pesto before although I've previously blanched it for freezing to use as a taste of spring in recipes and have used it thinly sliced into homemade bread. However,  I'm up for the challenge.

It is an easy plant to recognise because you can normally smell it before you see it. There is an enormous patch, near our house and we quickly a huge bowl full of the green stuff with the valid excuse of biology or botany lesson for my teenagers who are stuck with home schooling.

A quick Google found a whole host of recipes, which are easy to adapt if you have the rough ingredients.


Chopped roughly before adding to the food processor.


150 g of wild garlic leaves (the recipe says you can use blanched nettles, as an alternative but I've not reached that stage of desperation yet. Let's give it a couple of more weeks and see how hungry we get.)

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50 g of parmesan or similar cheese finely grated.

Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

50 g of toasted pine nuts. ( Fortunately, I had packet at the back of a cupboard but any roasted nut will do, just whatever you have to hand. If you have to roast the nuts keep a really close eye on them as they burn easily.)

The recipe stipulated 150 ml of rapeseed oil, but I'm out of that so replaced it with just over 110 ml of vegetable oil. I also wanted a thicker texture hence reducing the oil content.



Making the pesto, could not be easier.

Roughly chop the leaves, after a good soak in cold water to clean thoroughly, then dab dry in a tea towel.

Place the leaves, toasted pine nuts, finely grated Parmesan, lemon zest into a food processor and switch on. It takes moments to magically vanish into a gorgeous emerald paste. You can use a mortar and pestle, but you will get a rougher texture.

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Slowly add the vegetable oil to the processor and the juice of the whole lemon before seasoning with quite a lot of salt and pepper. Mix until it is the required texture, thin with more oil to your preferred texture.

Boil some pasta before adding a great big dollop of the pesto mixing to cover evenly. Plate, then scatter more Parmesan liberally on the top.

wild garlic


The remainder is decanted into a medium-sized jam jar and can be kept in the refrigerator for two weeks. I plan to add it to some homemade pizzas topping or spread liberally onto some crusty bread.

wild garlic





Catriona is based in the Scottish Borders and works as part of the audiovisual team at the Scotsman but she reviews restaurants for Scotland on Sunday and writes for Scotsman Food and Drink in her spare time.

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