I’d heard that during the second world war stinging nettle recipes were a staple but those were the only stories I knew of about nettle eating before 2020. But during lockdown with less food on the shelves and so many stinging nettles by our house I decided to try them out and leave the food on the shelves for other people. Turns out, they’re DELICIOUS. I presumed they’d be bitter like some of the other wild greens but they’re sweet and nutty and almost spinach like when cooked. They can sting you but when pulverised or heated they lose that ability and make a delicious pesto or green to stir into pasta, rice or lots of other warm dishes.
In the video below you can see us collecting them, what they look like, how not to get stung and how we make pesto with them! This is one of my firsts on YouTube – I’m trying to put something up there each more regularly to get better at video cos I think it’s helpful so let me know what you think 🙂
Makes about 1 1/2-2 cups pesto
5-6 cups fresh stinging nettle leaves (not packed down just loose)
1 cup raw cashews/pumpkin/sunflower seeds or a combo
1/3 cup olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Juice of 1/2 lemon or a splash of apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water (optional – the blanched nettles may not need this as they have some extra water in them but if you need some, use the strained water from blanching.)
Salt to taste
Remove any large stems from the mettles then throw them all into a pot of boiling salted water. Push them down so they’re covered with water and let them sit for 1-2 minutes until they’re wilted – they’re reduce down to about 1/4 of the size or less.
Drain the water into a bowl and press out any excess in a sieve of colander. Press the ball of leaves in a tea towel to remove any last bits of water.
Throw the nuts/seeds, garlic, nutritional yeast, salt, olive oil and lemon juice in a blender and pulse until it’s finely chopped and mixed.
Them throw in the nettle leave and pulse until they are incorporated and broken down. Add the water (or more oil but I prefer water for a more cream like pesto sauce for pasta) until it’s the desired thickness.
If you have a high powered blender like a vitamix rather than a food processor it will give you a more blended cream pesto sauce rather than a traditional pesto but I love that for pasta and often choose to do it in that kind of blender for that reason!
Use right away or store in a glass jar in the fridge for a few days.