Move on over basil, there's a new pesto in town! Our Vegan Wild Garlic Pesto is tangy and bursting with flavour, and makes the most of fresh foraged leaves.
Picking wild garlic is a family tradition in Austria, where it is known as Bärlauch. We first made wild garlic pesto, Bärlauchpesto, on our travels in Austria in our campervan. Now, every year we eagerly await the spring so we can make more! Try our recipe and you will understand why!
How do you make vegan pesto?
The traditional ingredients for pesto are basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. So to make pesto vegan we want to swap the cheese out.
Nutritional yeast, also known as ‘nooch', is an ideal choice for vegan pesto. It has a nutty, cheesy taste that is enhanced by salt and garlic. Nutritional yeast is often available fortified with vitamin B12, so it's a really good ingredient for new vegans to add to your store cupboard. This is the one that we buy (by the caseload I might add!).
Vegan pesto can be made with all sorts of green leaves - spinach, coriander, carrot tops, even dandelions. It's an excellent way of using up surplus greens. What we love about this vegan wild garlic pesto is you've already got your garlicky flavour, so it's even simpler to make!
You can also use all kinds of nuts or seeds to make pesto. Pine nuts are delicious but expensive. We forage them, but they take forever to get out of the pine cones! Good for a rainy day activity when you are stuck in the van, but not when you want to make a batch of pesto in a hurry.
For our vegan wild garlic pesto we used cashew nuts as we had them on hand, and they have a nice mellow flavour that lets the wild garlic shine. We have also used walnuts which works nicely. Sunflower seeds are also a good option to make it cheaper! We encourage you to experiment!
Frequently asked questions
No! You can make great pesto without a blender, all you need to do is chop or crush everything finely. It really doesn't take that long, and is worth it for the tasty pesto you get afterwards.
We did't have a food processor or blender in the van for years, but we still made great pesto. If you do have a blender, then that's the easier choice.
In spring you can forage wild garlic, allium ursinum, in deciduous woods. You can also sometimes find it at local markets when it is in season. If you want to pick your own wild garlic (which we fully recommend you do!) we put together this detailed guide on How to Forage Wild Garlic for you. Always make sure to forage safely and be 100% sure of what you are picking.
There's so many ways you can use it up, that you'll be wanting to make another jar in no time:
- We love our vegan wild garlic pesto spread on a slice of homemade sourdough bread.
- Or why not use it to bake a loaf of our yummy Pesto Swirl Bread.
- It goes great with veggies or salad in our vegan crepes.
- And of course, it goes fantastically in pasta dishes - for a quick tasty meal, simple wild garlic pesto spaghetti is always a winner.
- You can also add it into lasagne for a flavour boost, or use it to make a cold potato salad.
Keep in the fridge in an airtight jar for up to a week. We recommend adding a layer of oil on top of the pesto, which reduces the exposure to air and the risk of going mouldy or turning brown.
For longer storage, freeze your pesto. You can use ice cube trays or other small containers to make individual portions which are more convenient to use.
Vegan Wild Garlic Pesto
- 2 cups (120 g) wild garlic
- 2 tbsp nuts or seeds (cashews, walnuts, sunflower...)
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup + 1 tbsp (75 ml) olive oil
- Wash wild garlic thoroughly, drain well and pat dry with a tea towel.
- Chop the wild garlic finely. If you're going to blend the pesto in a food processor, you don't need to cut it very small, but chopping it a bit helps with easy blending.
- Lightly toast the nuts in a pan, then chop or crush the nuts finely.
- Add the wild garlic and nuts to a bowl, sprinkle on the nutritional yeast and salt. Then pour over the olive oil and mix well.
- Alternatively if you have food processor, simply add all ingredients and blend until it reaches your desired texture.
- Fill pesto into a sterilised jar and top with extra olive oil, or enjoy straight away!