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Lamb’s Quarters Pesto

July 17, 2020

Lamb’s Quarters Pesto


Summer to us means pesto season! There are so many yummy ways to make pesto and this summer, lamb’s quarters is growing in abundance. So that means, you guessed it, Lamb’s Quarters Pesto! This is a simple and delicious foragable sauce that you’ll be adding to any meal you can get it into!

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Lamb's quarters pesto is a great introduction to foraging. And means that you can feel good about some of your weeding.

Lamb’s Quarters is widely considered a weed in the gardening world. And you have likely seen it growing up on the sides of roads, in pastures or even on and around construction sites. But like many weeds, it is edible and quite yummy. When I’m describing it to friends I usually compare it to spinach. It doesn’t exactly taste like spinach, but it can be used in all the same ways that spinach can. Replacing spinach with lamb’s quarters in everything from lasagna to your smoothies is a nice way to make you weeding work feel less pointless. 

Lamb's quarters flowers about ready to open

Eat Your Weeds

Lamb’s quarters in a very hardy annual plant that thrives basically anywhere that has disturbed soil. And it’s also a real globe trotter of a plant. It grows pretty much all over in North, Central and South America. As well as showing up across Europe, parts of Africa, throughout the Middle East and into Australia and New Zealand. It’s part of the Amaranth family, and like Amaranth you can eat the seeds as well.

Lamb's quarters

The seeds contain bitter saponins, so it’s recommended that once you’ve harvested the dry seeds, you winnow them of their skins, and rinse them well. As well as the seeds, the stem, leaves and flowers are all edible. The leaves can look a bit powdery from a distance, because the tops of the leaves are green while the underside is paler, almost white.  It is tastiest to eat when it’s young but I will usually eat the leaves all through the season. Early in the season, we’ll munch the whole plant, and simply switch to only eating the leaves as the stems grow tough.

Making the Best of Weeding

This gardening season, I wanted to grow strawberries in pots on our deck. Unfortunately for our strawberry crowns, it’s been a very hot start to the summer. So I quickly lost about half of my crowns. Oh well, it happens, I wasn’t too happy about it, but plants dying is part of gardening. Well, I didn’t move the pots off my deck and for a short while after the crowns died, I stubbornly continued to water those pots. (Because I’m overly optimistic as often as I’m a cynic I guess). And suddenly what popped up but lamb’s quarters, in abundance! I was genuinely thrilled. 

Not only do our reptiles enjoy the weed, but we do too. So I’ve been watering my lamb’s quarters pots ever since. So far I’ve made one large batch of this pesto, and frozen some. We now have a happy tortoise and bearded dragon, who have been getting some fresh every morning. It’s a bit silly, but I always love when I can enjoy something for my breakfast that my tortoise also is enjoying for his breakfast. And this pesto is perfect on toast with an egg in the mornings! I use this Food Processor to make my pesto, but you can also use Blenders, Hand Blenders Or go old school and use a Mortar and Pestle.

Once you’ve made your pesto, why not check out this Fresh Pasta recipe to eat along with your tasty pesto. Or if you’re in the mood for a delicious pizza, how about this Salmon & Pesto Pizza.

Lamb’s Quarters Pesto

Don't fret weeding, celebrate it with this super easy foragable recipe. Lamb's Quarters Pesto is a great way to celebrate summer.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine canadian, Italian
Servings 2 cups


  • Food Processor


  • 1 cup Lamb's Quarters, Leaves
  • 1 cup Basil Leaves
  • 1/2 cup Pine Nuts Toasted
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Grated
  • 1/2-2/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp each Salt & Pepper


  • Combine the lamb's quarters, basil, pine nuts, parmesan, lemon juice and 1/2 cup of Olive Oil in food processor. Blend until chunky.
  • With the processor running slowly pour in more oil up to 2/3 cup until the texture is as smooth as you like it and everything is blended. Season with salt and pepper. Store in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to two weeks. Or freeze in ice cube trays, then store cubes in freezer bags for until to 6 months.
Keyword Foraging, Lamb’s Quarters, pesto

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6 thoughts on “Lamb’s Quarters Pesto”

  • It’s so interesting because I’ve always heard of lambs quarters (what a terrible name by the way!) But have literally never seen them here in Oregon where I live, neither in the city nor out in the country I live now! We tried making pesto with garlic scapes this year and found it really really terrible tasting haha…

    • That is weird! Although I’ve never been to Oregon, so maybe it just doesn’t grow there? We see it all over up here in Ontario. It particularly likes road sides and construction sites (though not the best spots to forage since they might have been sprayed).

      Haha I find with garlic Scapes in pesto, I have to go easy. Too much and I’ve had it turn out weird and bitter. So I add it a little at a time just to get the garlicky hints.

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