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Wild Leek Pesto


What fun we had last weekend, when we went away up north to my cottage to harvest some of Spring’s best goodies. Of course, a first harvest of the season is not complete without wild leeks, also known as ‘ramps’. This was our first foray into the land of wild leeks and was it ever exciting for two nerdy nutritionists!

There is great power in the first fresh local foods of the season. These mighty little things are the first to spring forth from the earth after the deep freeze of Winter. And wouldn’t you know it, they also provide so much of what our body needs to cleanse from the Winter build-up. One nutrient of note, is quercetin. You have heard of this before. Quercetin is a super nutrient to get in high doses to help ward off the sneezees and itchy eyes of hay-fever and Spring allergies. Nature always provides doesn’t she?

Wild leeks are a cross between onions and garlic but oh so much sweeter. They are not a food that can be cultivated and so much be found out in the wild (or at your local farmer’s market). I also read that harvesting wild leeks in many places is illegal as it is an endangered specie of plant. It’s a shame that this has happened, but I got to say- up in the Northern Ontario/Algonquin region- wild leeks were everywhere! Here are some pics from our harvest adventure.

All that green down there are patches of wild leeks.

Josh in the leeks!I put a Tweet out for some Wild leek recipe ideas and got nothing in return. Nothing! I know why though. You wanted me to make them up myself. So that is just what I did. Here is the first of my wild leek cooking adventures. This wild leek pesto is amazing! It is so sweet and not very oniony tasting at all. Great on everything and I have been eating it on just about everything!

Wild Leek Pesto

1 big handful of wild leeks (about 20)
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup raw cashews
2 Tbs Nutritional Yeast (optional)
sea salt to taste

  • Separate the  bulbs from the leaves of the wild leeks
  • Coarsely shop both the leaves and the bulbs
  • Sautee the bulbs and chopped garlic on medium heat until the bulbs become slightly translucent
  • Add the leaves to the pan and continue to sautee until leaves are limp
  • Transfer to food processor and add cashews, optional nutritional yeast and a pinch of sea salt
  • Process together until smooth- though you might like to leave a little chunky if you want the texture
  • Add more salt if needed (need will depend on use of nutritional yeast)

16 responses to “Wild Leek Pesto”

  1. Mo says:

    I’ve yet to try ramps, despite living where ramps should be easily accessible. I’ll see about getting some at the farmer’s market this weekend to try out. The pesto looks delicious. :)

  2. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday says:

    How did you know how to recognize the wild leeks?

  3. Lindsay at Kitchen Operas says:

    Yummm, thanks!
    I’ve used my wild leeks twice this Spring in a whole wheat tart: once with nettle greens, and once with spinach.


  4. Valerie from City|Life|Eats says:

    OMG I can’t believe I missed your tweet. I made ramp pesto a few weeks ago: – it’s pretty similar to yours, but was nutfree – it was awesome on top of steaming warm quinoa.

  5. Jes says:

    Ramp pesto is such a great idea!! I love those wild leeks so much.

  6. melissa says:

    Never even heard of wild leeks! They sound delicious! Thank you for sharing your recipe:)

  7. Andrea T says:

    I must have missed that tweet. I tweeted about it too and got one response: “This is my favourite way to prepare wild leeks:” (the response came from the “Star tester” himself.)

    I’ve been adapting it, basically making salads with hard boiled eggs and blanched ramps and mustard-based vinaigrette. Today I added blanched asparagus and fiddleheads for use in salad.

    Vaguely related: Wychwood Barns Market moves outdoors for the season this weekend.

  8. Jennifer R. says:

    Unreal… my grocery store had wild ramps… so I picked up some to make this recipe. Thanks for the inspiration :) I wish I knew if they grew in my area. And now I definitely know what they look like!

  9. CJ says:

    YUM! What a great idea!!! I will have to try this soon!

  10. Andrea T. says:

    Also, yesterday Taste TO posted a couple of recipes. I’d adapt the risotto to be meatless (I’m cool with aged cheddar- LOVE IT) and might try the recipe for Ramps and Cottage Cheese.

  11. Lucura says:

    Just thought it would be good to mention – If you decide to pick wild leeks (or any other wild foods) please do so ethically and do not over harvest. Wild leeks reproduce very slowly (it takes years for them to reproduce).

  12. Cindy says:

    Has anyone bought them online before? I found some for sale here: but I was wondering if anyone else had good experience with that?

  13. Simple Pizza for Simple Living | Meghan Telpner Nutritionista says:

    […] Wild Leek Pesto […]

  14. Maureen Harjula says:

    Wild leeks grow in bunches and it is so important not to remove the entire bunch as they won’t have anything to reproduce from. Just take a couple of leeks from each bunch and you will have leeks for many years.

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