Wild garlic or ramsons (bärlauch, literally bear leek in German) are everywhere at this time of year. It’s the first edible thing, really, to pop up in the spring and people are obsessed for the first little while before everyone gets sick of it closer to the end of the season. This vegan wild garlic pesto is a great way to use the abundance of this spring green, even if you don’t get tired of it.
It’s on the thicker side, so it can be used as a sandwich spread as well as in pasta, pizza, and wherever else you’d usually use pesto. The paler green colour is because it has a pile of seeds in it – which also makes it surprisingly high in protein – and the flavour of the wild garlic comes through without being overwhelming.
If you live in the US or Canada, you might be more familiar with ramps, not ramsons. Ramps are wild leeks but the flavour is very similar and they can be used interchangeably in this recipe. They can be found pretty readily at farmer’s markets around this time of year, maybe a little later depending on where you live, and have risen in popularity in the last few years.
To harvest wild garlic yourself, it is best to go with someone knowledgeable because it looks similar to lily of the valley, which is poisonous. It is easy to tell if you crush the leaves slightly and smell them, because wild garlic has such a strong smell, but it’s not a mistake you want to make.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Hemp hearts: this must be hearts, not seeds. The seeds contain a hard outer layer that won’t blend into a smooth pesto.
- Sunflower seeds: substitute pine nuts if you want a more traditional style of pesto.
My food processor isn’t particularly strong, so my pesto isn’t completely smooth. It’s still good but a high powered processor will result in a smoother texture.
If you want a thinner pesto to use as pasta sauce, for example, keep the recipe as is, but thin it with some pasta water from cooking. This makes the perfect sauce that will coat the pasta just as it should.
How to Store
Storage: keep the pesto in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Freezing: I haven’t tried freezing this and I think it would separate after thawing.
- Use an immersion blender: if you don’t have a food processor, a decent immersion blender is a fraction of the price, much easier to store, and works very well for recipes like this one.
- Add the oil second: mixing while adding the oil in a slow stream emulsifies the mixture, making it creamiet and less likely to separate when stored.
More Vegan Spreads
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Wild Garlic Pesto
- 70 grams sunflower seeds
- 40 grams hulled hemp seeds (hemp hearts)
- 30 grams wild garlic
- ½ teaspoon sea salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 lemons, juiced ~ 80 ml (1/3 cup)
- 60 ml olive oil
- Add the seeds, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon juice to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Blend on high until mostly smooth, and then add the olive oil in a slow drizzle while blending until combined. Continue to mix until as smooth as possible.70 grams sunflower seeds, 40 grams hulled hemp seeds, 30 grams wild garlic, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 2 lemons, juiced, 60 ml olive oil
- Serve mixed with pasta, on bread, pizza, or crackers, or mix into salad dressing. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.