Nettle Pesto Recipe
This is a basic pesto recipe with nettles as a substitute for basil. Because blanched nettles will not oxidize and turn brown easily you can store this pesto in the fridge for up to a week.
Produces 1 cup, feel free to double or triple the recipe based on the amount of nettles you have after they are blanched. Takes 20 minutes to prepare.
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 generous tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons grated cheese
- 2/3 cup blanched nettles (see instructions below)
- Salt to taste
- Olive oil (see instructions below)
- To blanche nettles, bring a large pot of water to a boil, place the nettles in batches into the water for 1-2 minutes, after that immediately immerse the nettles in an ice water bath. Then strain the nettles and dry them with a salad spinner or paper towel. Tip: You can use the water that was used to boil the nettles as a healthy chilled drink or use it as a base for a soup stock, or even cool it and pour it in your garden!
- Pulse toasted pine nuts in the food processor or high powered blender.
- Add the garlic, salt, cheese and nettles and run the machine so everything combines, but isn’t a smooth paste, you want it with some texture.
- Start adding olive oil. Drizzle it in a little at a time until you have the consistency you want.
- Pour pesto into clean jars and store in the fridge or use right away on your favourite dish!
Drying Nettle for Tea
You can harvest the plant the same way; use gloves and scissors to clip the nettles, and make sure to harvest in an area that you know is clean. Don’t harvest along highways, under hydro lines or other areas where chemicals may be used. The reason this is so important is you do not want to wash the nettles you are going to dry for tea. (If you wash them there is a higher chance they will mould.)
Take your clean and dry nettles and bundle them together, take an elastic and put it tightly around the stems. Hang the bundle from a string in a cool dry and dark place and wait for them to be completely dry. The reason you don’t want to do this in the sun is that you might loose some of the potency of the plant with sun drying.
After they are dry, take them and remove the leaves, the stinging will be gone now. Compost the stems and save the leaves in a cool and dark place. Storing them in a glass jar, paper bag or other storage container is great and you can keep them in the fridge or freezer as well to maintain freshness. You can also use a coffee grinder (preferably one that hasn’t been used for coffee as the taste will get into the nettles) and pulse them into smaller pieces.
When making nettle tea you can fill a tea ball or add 2 table spoons to a small pot and steep for 5-10 minutes then strain and enjoy. The tea can help with inflammation and as a general tonic for maintaining health. Nettle tea can also help reduce the symptoms of hay fever.