Forager’s Pesto & Roasted Fennel Salad

Following an abundant harvest of fresh herbs on the farm, and wild goodness from the woods, we’ve been busy packing the flavour, rich nutrients and vitamins into jars of homemade pesto.

Pesto is one of those great ingredients that enables you to create a delicious and nutritious meal in minutes. I always have a jar freshly made up in the fridge, as long as the top of the pesto is covered in a layer of oil it will happily sit there for 2 weeks, in fact I think it gets better after a few days as the flavours meld together.

Jo, Head Chef

Here’s a few ideas of how to use it, (not just for pasta!!)

  1. Jazz up a soup with a good dollop in a minestrone, or swirl decoratively onto creamy cauliflower or tomato
  2. Stir into a tray of roast veg (20 min before finish) to give a Mediterranean flavour
  3. Add hot as a jacket potato filling or cold in sandwiches and salad.
  4. Delicious included on a tapas platter, or piled into a pastry taste as an easy tart.
  5. Spread onto bruschetta instead of garlic and add your favourite topping
  6. Use in a classic French salad dressing instead of the mustard
  7. Instead of butter use this to coat warm new potatoes 
  8. Replace the tomato sauce on a pizza and finish with your favourite toppings
  9. Add a few teaspoons to a savoury scone mix
  10. Spoon into mushrooms (stalks removed) before baking

Forager’s Pesto: Ingredients

  • A mix of wild garlic and nettle, 150g
  • Pumpkin seeds, 75g, pre-soaked
  • Parsley, a good handful
  • Nutritional yeast, 2 tbsp
  • Organic Rapeseed oil, 100-150ml (local where possible)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Blanch the nettles in boiling water for 2 mins, drain and squeeze out the water. 
  • Repeat with the wild garlic if it is very strong, or wash and dry the wild garlic in a salad spinner
  • Blitz the soaked pumpkin seeds in a food processor until they are broken down a bit
  • Add the wild garlic, nettle and parsley, nutritional yeast and begin processing whilst pouring about 2/3 of the oil into the funnel
  • Scrape down the sides of the processor, add the salt and pepper to taste blitz and add another 20-30ml of oil if required
  • Put the pesto into a clean jar and smooth the top, pour over the remaining oil to form a layer and put on the lid
  • This will keep in a fridge for 2 weeks

Notes: Suitable for paleo, coeliac, gluten free, GAPS and vegan diets.

Roasted Fennel & Pesto Salad

I like to make this as a light lunch or starter, serve with warm bread or garlicky pesto bread baked in the oven. The roasted fennel is also delicious as a side dish with a roasted dinner.


Serves 4-6 

  • 3 bulbs of fennel
  • 1 tbsp cold pressed rapeseed oil
  • sea salt
  • 1 tbsp pesto
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp pesto (for the popped seeds)
  • mixed salad leaves
  • 1 tbsp pesto (for dressing)
  • 3 tbsp cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat the oven to 200c / gas mark 6 
  • Wash the fennel, remove any fennel fronds and save for later
  • Cut fennel into quarters, removing any hard core
  • Add the oil to a roasting tray, add the fennel, coat with the oil and sprinkle with sea salt
  • Cook for 15-20 mins until the fennel is cooked but still firm and some of the edges have started to brown
  • Stir in 1 tbsp of pesto, make sure all the fennel is coated and return to the oven for 3- 5 mins just to cook the pesto into the fennel; set to one side.
  • For the seeds, heat the oil and pesto in a small frying pan, when warm stir together and add the pumpkin seeds, coating them in the mixture
  • Shake the pan occasionally until the seeds start to pop, they will puff up and go very plump when ready.
  • For the salad, tear the salad leaves into nice sized pieces
  • Combine the pesto and cider vinegar in a clean jam jar and shake vigorously to amalgamate. Take a piece of lettuce and dip into the dressing to taste, add salt and pepper taste and adjust the seasoning if required * 
  • Toss together the salad leaves and coat with the salad dressing 
  • Pile onto plates or bowls, lay the warm fennel on top and sprinkle the pumpkin seeds op top


*The dressing should always taste slightly too sharp tasted on it’s own, so always taste it with some of the leaves you are using.

This is suitable for paleo, coeliac, gluten free, GAPS and vegan diets. 

One response to “Forager’s Pesto & Roasted Fennel Salad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *