Nettles is often looked at as an unwanted shrub that's dangerous because it stings and causes pain, however when handled and cooked properly it's a true culinary delight. It's not only just tasty in tea, pesto, pasta, or pizza - it is highly nutritious and has high levels of protein and iron. Nettles are also believed to have great medicinal healing powers.
Patrick received a huge bag of fantastic looking nettles to try from Silver Terrace Nursery in Pescadero, so we made some great use out of it. While we both love nettles, we agree that it's a pain in the butt to cook. There are some processes to take but it's all fairly easy and it's always worth the effort in the end.
This nettles pesto is absolutely delicious, earthy, and nutty. It's great with some nice crusty bread or good to fry an egg in. It's perfect with pasta and pizza especially with some pesto shrimp. It's so versatile, you can't go wrong. Enjoy the recipe below!
Stinging Nettles Pine Nuts Pesto Recipe
Makes a little over 1 cup
YOU WILL NEED
- Food processor - smallest setting for 1 to 2 cups
- 4 cups stinging nettle leaves, tightly packed*
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup roasted pine nuts
- 1/4 cup (or more depends on preference) extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup of good quality Parmesan cheese, grated
- kosher salt and fresh black pepper, as needed
- lemon, optional
*Note: When handling stinging nettles, use tongs or gloves to harvest the leaves so you don't get stings.
- Heat water and salt in a pot to boil. Add the nettles to the pot for 2 minutes. Drain immediately and place the cooked nettles in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and to keep the bright color. Let it cool then squeeze the nettles dry using a towel to remove all moisture completely.
- In the food processor, add in the nettles, garlic cloves, and pine nuts. In pulse mode, very slowly add in the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Then add in the grated Parmesan cheese. Taste it and add the salt and paper to your liking, or add in more Parmesan or olive oil. If you like it chunky, use the minimum amount of olive oil but if you want it on the oily side, add more olive oil. For a bit of brightness, add in a squeeze of a lemon. Pulse to desired consistency.
The pesto will last for several days in the fridge. Be sure to top it off with olive oil to preserve it and store in a airtight container for longer life, if possible.