I am feeling ever-so-grateful for Mother Earth's beautiful Springtime blessings of Stinging Nettles and the abundant harvest I'm able to make every year. Did you know that nettles are more nutritious than spinach, kale or asparagus?! They are loaded with vitamins A, B, C, and K, as well as minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese zinc, and iron plus all of the essential amino acids. They act as antioxidants inside your body, helping with liver and overall health. It's quite a gift to receive each year. Too bad, most of us don't know to take advantage of it. I only learned a short, few years ago.
My favorite way to eat them? Pesto! I make large batches, then I freeze them in individual glass containers to be eaten over the next 3-6 months. I add it to pasta with veggies and chicken, I spread it on dosas (my favorite gluten-free bread substitute) and top them with red or green onion, olives, and sometimes even turkey.
This recipe is naturally gluten-free and is dairy-free by choice. This pesto packs so much flavor on its own that I really don't feel like parmesan (in classic pesto) helps the flavor. I actually think it's better without it.
You can make pesto from almost any green herb. Feel free to sub basil, parsley, chives, coriander, mint, tarragon, or cilantro. Sometimes when herbs are beginning to wilt and I know I'm not using them, I'll label them and then throw them into the freezer to use for a future "mixed herb pesto". Just let them thaw, then proceed with the recipe. I give recommended amounts in the recipe below, but please note that this is more of a "to taste" recipe as you'll need adjust according to your harvest and your own preferences.
Wild Nettle Pesto Recipe
(15 minutes, 16 oz)
Nettles, 2 loosely packed grocery store sized bags
1 large pot of water
1 large bowl of ice water
1/3 cup walnuts
1/2 cup or more high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (organic, cold-pressed, unrefined)
1/4 c lemon juice
5-7 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then submerge nettles and let boil for 1-2 minutes to remove the sting. If using fresh nettle, do not to touch with bare hands.
Remove nettles with tongs and place into the ice bath. Since you've blanched the nettles, they will not oxidize and turn brown easily.
Strain nettle to remove excess moisture, then add to the food processor with all other ingredients.
Pulse a few times to incorporate ingredients and then blend until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of the food processor.
Adjust: Is the pesto too thick? Add more olive oil. Too bland? Add salt, garlic, or lemon juice. Does it need more body? Add walnuts.
Blend again until smooth, then serve or save!