Green Garlic Pesto

Green Garlic Pesto
Photo © Molly Watson
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 3 servings
Yield: 3/4 cup
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
413 Calories
32g Fat
27g Carbs
8g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3
Amount per serving
Calories 413
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 32g 42%
Saturated Fat 5g 23%
Cholesterol 7mg 2%
Sodium 461mg 20%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 24mg 118%
Calcium 210mg 16%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 376mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The young shoots of garlic, commonly called green garlic, are easy to turn into a flavorful spring "pesto" sauce in which the green garlic takes the place of basil, for a similarly easy-to-make pasta sauce with a decidedly garlicky, bright spring flavor.

Use this pesto on pasta, as pictured, as a spread on sandwiches, as a dip with spring crudités, or as a luscious sauce for chicken or fish. If you have a lot of green garlic on hand, know that this pesto keeps very well, covered and chilled up to three days or frozen up to two months—so go ahead, make a big batch, and freeze some for later in the year!


  • 1/2 pound green garlic

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup freshly shredded pecorino cheese

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Trim and discard the root ends of the green garlic.

  3. Finely chop the green garlic, rinse it thoroughly under cool running water in a colander, and pat or spin it dry (I find chopping and then cleaning gets all the dirt out of the picture; if it's been a rainy spring, the dirt has a way of getting splattered in between the layers of the green garlic leaves).

  4. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, cook the vegetable oil, green garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt until the green garlic is soft, about 3 minutes. Let it cool to warm room temperature.

  5. In a blender or food processor, pulse the pine nuts to chop. Set them aside in a bowl.

  6. Put the cooked green garlic in and pulse it, scraping down the sides as necessary, until it is bright green and smooth.

  7. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil.

  8. Pulse in the reserved nuts and cheese. Taste the mixture and add more salt, if you like.

  9. Use with your favorite type of pasta and enjoy.


  • Note that this recipe makes enough to coat 1 pound linguine.

Recipe Variations

  • Pistachios are a good substitute for pine nuts.
  • If you don't have pecorino, another hard, flavorful grating cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, works great.