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Edible Weeds Pesto Recipe

One of the most simple recipes for using your wild edible weed foraging’s is pesto. Versatile, tasty and this version boasts extra health benefits and was all found on the road sides around our beautiful Whangaroa Harbour.

I love to forage when I'm out on my weekend bike rides, its amazing the goodness that grows along our road sides. Unfortunately glyphosate (round up) is still sprayed in New Zealand, liberally (sadly), so you have to be very cautious where you forage.

Foraging is not only getting some free food, it gets you in touch with nature and encourages appreciation of the gifts from Papatuanuku. It is so important to realise that food and health isn't brought in a shop, you can easily find the most healthy things in life by simply stepping out side and noticing what is growing around you and walking barefoot outside. I have recently been part of a food sovereignty initiative in my town of Kaeo in the Far North of New Zealand and I am absolutely passionate about education, identification and showing the tasty things you can make with the wild weeds growing around our area and this pesto is a perfect example of it.

Starting from the left and moving in a clockwise direction:

Nasturtium, Kawakawa, Fennel, Samphire, Fat hen, Wild Mustard, Cleavers, Clover

NASTURTIUM: Nasturtium leaves peppery taste is similar to cress or wild rocket. They are high in Vitamin C and a natural antibiotic, immune boosting, antibacterial, anti-fungal. Eating a couple of the leaves at the beginning of a cold can stop it in its tracks but avoid if pregnant.

KAWAKAWA: From the pepper family so has a pungent peppercorn flavour and supports the digestive system and bladder.

WILD FENNEL: With its punchy refreshing aniseed flavour the seeds and flowers are great for digestion and are a concentrated source of Vitamin A, C, magnesium, calcium and iron.

SAMPHIRE: Has a juicy salty taste of the sea I have found little patches of marsh samphire growing all around the Whangaroa area. With very similar nutrition to the Fennel above it also contains fucoidans which are often found in sea vegetables which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

FAT HEN, LAMB'S QUARTERS OR PIGWEED: The leaves of this common weed is often used as a wild spinach these greens are rich in protein, Vitamins A, Bs and C, niacin, phosphorus, iron and omega 3.

WILD MUSTARD: You will notice these spiky greens all over NZ with their pretty rocket looking flowers you can eat the whole plant in different ways and have similar properties to fat hen above it stimulates the appetite, is good for bone health and respiratory system.

CLEAVERS: Otherwise known as biddy-bids this under utilised weed is perfect for pesto due it its unpalatable texture, an awesome support for our lymphatic system and to purify the blood, high in Vitamin C and silica.


Clover is a flowering plant, which blossoms, leaves, and stems can be used. There is red and white varieties. White clover was traditionally used to purify and cleanse the blood. A tea made from the blossoms can be used as an eyewash. Tincture the leaves to use as an ointment for gout. Make a tea infusion to fight fevers and colds.


~ New Recipe ~

Vegan | Gluten-free

Makes 350g

Measure into a food processor:

1 clove garlic or 4 onion weed bulbs, peeled

1/4 cups macadamia nuts (or 1/2 c and omit the parmesan)

1/4 cups parmesan, dairy or plant-based, grated

3 cups wild weeds, roughly chopped

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

125ml extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Whizz together until desired consistency. Serve on crackers, toast, as a nutritious tasty side dish, stir through soups, pasta or rice.

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