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OR Mushroom Stories, Edible Portland
Potato Commission

Stinging Nettle Pesto

Italians make nettle pesto, or pesto d’urtica, in springtime.

3 cups raw stinging nettles
3 medium garlic cloves
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese, finely grated

1. Using tongs or gloves, measure 3 tightly packed cups of raw young nettle tops. Add them to salted boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, drain immediately and then place the greens in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Cool, strain and squeeze dry using a tea towel to remove every drop of moisture that you can.

2. Coarsely chop the nettles to make about 1 cup. Add them to the bowl of a food processor with the garlic cloves and pine nuts. While pulsing, slowly add the olive oil, 1 tablespoon at a time. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. You might add a small knob of soft butter and a squeeze of lemon juice if it needs brightening. Blend once more to incorporate the final additions.

Makes 1 generous cup

Recipe by Ellen Jackson

Read the story on stinging nettles in the Edible Seasonals column of our Spring 2011 issue (page 14).

9 Responses to “Stinging Nettle Pesto”

  1. Pati
    March 31st, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    I just learned about gathering stinging nettles and that you can eat them! I went with a chef and cookbook author in Seattle, Becky Selengut, on a foraging trip over the weekend and nettles were one of the things we were after. While out foraging, Becky made us nettle tea which was delicious. We gathered nettles and many other wild things for our dinner where Becky made nettle ravioli and nettle sauce for a smoked halibut, yummy! I brought my bounty of nettles home and made the Portland Pesto from the attached recipe and made a couple of changes. I used toasted walnuts instead of pine nuts and garnished the dish with toasted walnuts and Parmesan cheese on top. I also added the justice of one lemon to the pesto when I made it…I made it as a cold pasta salad, delicious!!!

  2. Edible Portland
    April 4th, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Walnuts are a perfect substitute!

  3. Food Matters - Stinging Nettles
    April 17th, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    [...] in making the buns I made today, prepare your favourite recipe for bread dough. Here is one recipe for nettle pesto. After the first rise of the bread, I rolled out the dough into a flat rectangle. [...]

  4. Susann
    April 30th, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Bought a bag o’ nettles at the Bainbridge Farmers’ Market. Made the pesto and used it on fresh campanelle pasta. Out of this world!! Also had fiddleheads, sautéed in butter, garlic and lemon. What a meal!

  5. Stinging Nettle Pesto | North Country Cooks
    July 8th, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    [...] The resources that were used in harvesting the nettles and preparing the pesto were: “The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants” by Samuel Thayer and Edible Portland. [...]

  6. nettles
    July 20th, 2013 at 1:43 am

    [...] do than go hunting and then straight to the kitchen. first up was a nettle pesto. found a recipe at edible portland  and the day after i did a nettle soup from martha stewart you can find here. the only thing i did [...]

  7. Eat Your Weedies | Giving Tree Gardens
    March 11th, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    […] Burdock, Chickweed, Violets, Daylillies, Garlic Mustard, Milk Thistle, Plantain, Purslain, and Nettle are a few of the other heroes of health that grow freely all around us here in Minnesota and […]

  8. tina daily
    March 22nd, 2014 at 8:32 am

    The other night I had a dish Nettle Rissoto. It was out of this world! Yummy and sweet. Just another way to use this maligned leaf!

  9. Susann
    April 11th, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    A year later… Couldn’t wait for “nettle season”! This recipe is really good – and this time I made it with foraged nettles! Yum yum!

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