Always looking for ways to use the abundant nettles in our garden, I started with this nettle pesto recipe from Naked Cuisine
This is Naked Cuisine’s ingredient list (although I didn’t measure anything myself):
- 3 C fresh nettle leaves
- 4 garlic cloves
- ¾ C pine nuts
- ¼ C olive oil
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 Tbs lemon juice
- ¾ C parmesan or asiago cheese, shredded (optional)
I added chopped fresh cherry tomatoes and extra pine nuts to toss in with the pasta for extra texture.
I set a large saucepan of water to boil. Go out into the garden with my scissors to carefully cut the tops off nettles (see foraging tips below).
Come back into the kitchen, rinse off the nettle tops and drop them in the now boiling water.
Roughly chopped garlic cloves and throw them in as well.
After one minute scoop it all out with a slotted spoon into a colander to squeeze out as much water as possible back into the saucepan. Then when the water returned to boiling, I put my pasta in to cook as normal.
You can use raw garlic but I prefer the sweeter flavour of cooked garlic.
Whilest the pasta is cooking you zap the pesto ingredients in a blender, chop the cherry tomatoes and saute some extra pine nuts in butter/oil to toss in with the pasta for extra texture.
For more nettle recipes please click here.
Nettles are free, grow by themselves and are said to be more nutritious than spinach. You can use nettles in any recipe that uses cooked spinach (but do not try to eat nettles raw!) Nettle texture is rougher than spinach which can be slimey. If your family is cautious, start with mixing nettles in with more familiar veg like spinach, onions, leeks etc (you don’t have to tell them the nettles are in there too).
The basic guidelines that need to be followed when foraging are: only pick what you are 100% sure is edible, don’t trample plants and don’t pick close to roads or paths (where plants might be contaminated by pollution, crop spray or dog wee).
Select the youngest new leaves for cooking. The rest of the leaves and stalks are good food for your garden. Put them in your compost or in a bucket of water (with comfrey leaves too if possible) to make a liquid fertiliser.