Nettles are one of the most nutrient dense wild foods you can find. In fact, they are a superfood! Nettles are high in calcium, chromium, magnesium, zinc, iron, selenium, potassium, trace minerals, protein and many vitamins including A and C.
The leaves of nettle may be useful in reducing the symptoms of hay fever by acting as an anti-inflammatory. Some research has linked treatment of stinging nettle leaves to relive the symptoms of runny nose, sneezing and itchy eyes - all common seasonal allergy symptoms.
Spring is the time to start foraging wild stinging nettle as you will notice it's popping up everywhere! Just be sure to wear rubber gloves to avoid the annoying sting they create when you touch the little hairs on their stem and leaves.
My boys and I went out the other night to grab some for a tasty nettle pesto and I had to share the recipe as it was SO good! Super creamy and I made it dairy free even.
Stinging Nettle Pesto Recipe:
- 6 cups fresh stinging nettle leaves (keep the stems for tea)
- 2/3 cups nuts and/or seeds (pine, walnuts, cashews, sunflowers seeds, pecans, hazelnuts or a combo)
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- 1/3 cup of "cheese" (can use parmesan or if dairy free use nutritional yeast and/or hemp hearts) *I used 1/2 nutritional yeast and 1/2 hemp hearts to equal 1/3 cup)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 1/3 cup olive oil (or more for a runnier version)
- 1 date (optional)
- 1 tbsp greens powder (optional)
Wearing rubber gloves, remove leaves from stems (keep the stems to steep a tea afterwards). Wash leaves in a colander and drain.
In a large saucepan, over medium heat, add half the nettle leaves and about 2 tbsp of water. Stir with a wooden spoon and cook until the leaves have wilted and turned dark green, about 2 minutes. Remove cooked nettle and repeat with remaining leaves.
Drain nettle leaves and squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Set aside.
To Make the Pesto
In a food processor, coarsely chop nuts, garlic, and your choice of "cheese". Add remaining ingredients (except for olive oil) and process until well blended. With food processor running, slowly pour olive oil in to make a paste.
Voila! Delicious and nutritious stinging nettle pesto to use on pasta, pizza, crackers, vegetables, sandwiches and more!
Store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks in a well sealed glass jar. Or you can freeze in convenient portion sized containers. Store in freezer for up to 6 months.