Sunday, 6 April 2014


Stinging nettles

“Stinging Nettles?”

“Are you joking? Why can’t we just have normal basil pesto?”

That was the reaction I received when I produced this rather bright green looking pesto the other day. I must admit it isn’t something I've made before however, this doesn’t usually deter me from trying something new.

Recently there have been lots of articles in the paper and magazines about gathering your own food for free, maybe it’s the recession or just that spring is in the air. Who knows, however when I saw a huge patch of nettles at the back of the house I thought, Why not!


The actual making of the pesto was really easy. The hardest part was trying to gather enough nettles to make a substantial quantity of pesto for the four of us.

nettle detail

It sounds stupid but it's amazing how light the leaves are. Fine if you live in the country side with abundant lanes and hedge rows, however in the city, they are harder to come by. It goes without saying you do need to wear thick gloves and have scissors and a tray or bag to put them in as you need bundles of the things.

I’m pleased to say I managed the whole thing without getting stung...but still had to answer the question

"Why eat nettles?" 

After a quick bit of research I found out that they are rich in vitamins A, C, D, K and many other minerals including iron and can often be used as a substitute for spinach. I won't put them in my salad like spinach, but cooked in a pesto, they are great.

 The colour alone is worth making it for, it's such a bright, intense green.

Intense green homemade nettle pesto

It is certainly different and served with homemade tagliatelle it's lovely, AND was a real hit with everyone.... 

 So if you have run out of basil pesto and have a patch of stingers nearby give it a go.

Spring shoots


Serves 4-6
Preparation time 5 minutes
Cooking time 5 minutes


 3 slugs of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp pistachio nuts
4 Tbsp Walnut oil
60g  stinging nettles
20g Parmesan
 Salt and pepper to taste

Nettle pesto with half a ladle full of the pasta water

1.     First wash the nettles in boiling water, then place in salted boiling water and boil for 5 minutes.
2.     2. Meanwhile chop a clove of garlic put it in a food blender, I used a hand held one, add the pistachio nuts, and when drained, the nettle mush and oils and blend.
3.     If you are serving straight away then add the cheese if not, refrigerate and add the cheese when you need.

Cook your pasta as needed and then add half a ladle of the pasta water to the pesto in a pan and heat gently before adding the cooked pasta into the pesto.

Really simple!! The hardest thing is not getting stung when you pick them!!

Nettle pesto pasta served in a Richard Bramble bowl.

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