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Stinging Nettle Pesto - A Healthy Spring Detox!

  • Light Lunches
  • Mains
  • Spring
  • Gluten free
  • Vegetarian
5

Nettles are full of healthy nutrients.  So this Stinging Nettle Pesto is particularly high in iron, packed with other minerals and vitamins, plus it’s a great detox for the liver.

stinging nettle pesto

Nettle-picking Tips


Nettles are best in the Spring.  Ideally, pick nettles that are quite high (you don’t want them “sprayed” by animals) and the younger leaves are best since the older, outer leaves can be quite bitter.  Never pick nettles from the side of the road, as they are in danger of being sprayed by herbicides.  It’s best to get them far into the forest, as nature intended.

Check out my previous post about picking nettles in the forest.

nettle pesto tossed in pasta with fried nettle leaves

Stinging Nettle Pesto Recipe

Like classic pesto, this nettle variation is handy to have in the fridge.  It can keep for 3-4 days (just keep topping it up with olive oil after use) and it freezes well, too.  Pesto is SO quick and easy to make, it’s a crying shame if you buy that mass market stuff sold in jars at the supermarket. Although – this nettle version does take a bit longer but it’s worth it.

Serves 6 (also freezes well in a jam jar)

Ingredients

100g stinging nettle leaves, stalks removed
30 pine nuts, (or walnuts) toasted
2 cloves garlic, core removed
40g parmesan, freshly grated (reggiano, although grana padano will do)
1 tsp sea salt
freshly cracked pepper
200ml extra virgin olive oil

1.  Keep your gloves on at this point, as the nettles still have their sting!

Don’t forget the gloves!

2.  Remove all the leaves from the stalks then soak them in cold water for a few minutes.

3.  Still with gloves on, plunge the leaves into salted boiling water for 2 minutes.  The salt keeps the green colour bright.  Blanching the nettle leaves like this removes their sting.

4.  Strain the leaves and cool.  You could reserve the cooking water (for stock, soups etc.)

5.  Once cool, squeeze out any excess water and place in a food processor or blender with the other ingredients. Add the cheese at the end.

Toss the pesto into cooked pasta.  There is no need to heat the sauce.  That way you get all the beautiful flavours oodling their way between the noodles…

Garnish the dish with crispy nettle leaves which have been deep fried for 30 seconds in 150°C and left to drain off excess oil on kitchen paper.  That way you get Le Crunch and not a sting…

Stinging Nettle Pesto

stinging nettle pesto
5 from 1 vote

Stinging Nettle Pesto

Author: Jill Colonna
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time2 mins
Total Time32 mins
Course : Main Course, Starter
Cuisine : French, Italian
Servings : 6

Description

A healthy spring twist to the Italian classic pesto sauce, using foraged stinging nettles.

Ingredients

  • 100 g / 3.5oz stinging nettle leaves stalks removed
  • 30 pine nuts (or walnuts) toasted
  • 2 cloves garlic core removed
  • 40 g / 1.5oz parmesan freshly grated (reggiano, although grana padano will do)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • 200 ml / 7oz extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  • Keep your gloves on at this point, as the nettles still have their sting!
  • Remove all the leaves from the stalks then soak them in cold water for a few minutes.
  • Still with gloves on, plunge the leaves into salted boiling water for 2 minutes. The salt keeps the green colour bright. Blanching the nettle leaves like this removes their sting.
  • Strain the leaves and cool. You could reserve the cooking water (for stock, soups etc.)
  • Once cool, squeeze out any excess water and place in a food processor or blender with the other ingredients. Add the cheese at the end.

Notes

Toss the pesto into cooked pasta. There is no need to heat the sauce. That way you get all the beautiful flavours oodling their way between the noodles…
Garnish the dish with crispy nettle leaves which have been deep fried for 30 seconds in 150°C and left to drain off excess oil on kitchen paper.  That way you get Le Crunch and not a sting...
Enjoy with a glass of red Bordeaux, such as a Fronsac, a chilled fruity rosé or a white Vermentino.
The sauce also freezes well.
 
Jill Colonna
MadAboutMacarons.com
 

 

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Reviews (2)

5 stars
I’ve never had stinging nettles in any way (except poking my legs!) but I’m quite sure I’d love this pesto! I’m sure it’s so nutritious, too. Lovely photos too, Jill!

It’s full of good stuff in there, Christina. Now without a thyroid, I’m told to eat as many nettles as I can find!


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