Stinging Nettle Pesto

Spring and early summer are prime time for harvesting these tasty plants. Even though at first glance they seem intimidating, spiky, and hostile, stinging nettles have more iron than any other plant source! Cooked briefly, the stinging hairs on the nettles are de-activated, and make for a great spinach substitute. Use them however you would use a dark green, leafy vegetable. There are unlimited possibilities! However, it is important to make sure you use these plants before they flower, because otherwise the nettles will become tougher and not as nutritious, since they will be dedicating their energy towards spreading their seeds for next year. Stinging nettles are found in areas with moist soil, often in areas with high levels of phosphate and nitrogen in the soil.

After locating some nettles….the easiest way I have found to harvest them is by snapping off individual leaves. Not the quickest way, but it  saves space in your pack when you are trying to carry home a decent amount of nettles. Make sure you are wearing thick, sturdy gloves! Grasp nettle stalk in one hand, and individual leaf in the other hand, gently snap leaf from plant.

After coming back to the kitchen, wash your nettles in cold water. Drop nettles into boiling water for one minutes to remove the stinging hairs. Drain and squeeze water from the nettle leaves. Simply use these nettles like you would cooked spinach. Or…make some amazing nettle pesto!

Stinging Nettle Pesto

In a food processor, combine

– 2 cups boiled nettles

– 4 cloves garlic

– 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup olive oil

– 1 cup walnuts/pine nuts/ or almonds

– t tsp salt

– 1 tsp black pepper

– 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano

Use in sandwiches, put on toast, or use a pesto sauce for pasta. MmmmM! Enjoy! I made a big batch of this and ate it for weeks!

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Sonya on May 28, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    What a beautiful stand you found! And that recipe is so easy. Thanks Kellee!!


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