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I’d never tried nettles until I made this pesto! They came from my

first foraging trip in Berlin. They aren’t all that common in Australia (perhaps it’s too dry for them?), so when I started seeing nettles everywhere I decided I’d have to cook something with them. There’s a couple of types of nettles, these softer, non-prickly ones are most common:

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You can also see some lovely wild Forget Me Nots. I’m not sure whether they grow wild or the seeds have blown over from the local Klein gartens.

I’ve also fallen foul of the bigger, meaner nettles whilst in Europe, so I’d advise gloves, scissors and a bag for any foraging!

I decided to make a simple pesto using my bounty of nettles. I just made it up really. You could add herbs or vary the nuts to taste.

Nettle Pesto

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of nettles
  • 100g nuts (I used walnuts and hazelnuts)
  • 3  clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • About 100ml good olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions: 

  1. First, prepare the nettles. Wash the nettles then place in a large saucepan of boiling water for 3 minutes.
  2. With tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the nettles and place immediately into a bowl of ice water to shock and cool.
  3. Squeeze out as much liquid from the nettles as you can (they will no longer be stinging!) then roughly chop.
  4. Put the walnuts and garlic into a food processor and process until finely chopped – but still with some granular texture.
  5. Add the nettles and blitz again to chop the leaves, then begin gradually pouring in the oil, while the processor runs. Stop when the desired texture is reached.
  6. Taste, season as desired with lemon juice, salt and pepper.Store in the fridge – if you cover the surface of the pesto with oil, it should keep for a couple of weeks.

This pesto is wonderful on fresh bread or stirred through pasta. It would also be a lovely topping for roast vegetables.