Fresh and free nettle pesto

nettle pesto

Fresh nettle pesto

Nettles are a fantastic superfood, fun to forage and best of all, free! Bang full of vitamins and minerals, once prepared they are great in any recipe where you would use spinach. We love them stirred through fresh pasta with a little butter and salt, or in a quiche with cheese and bacon.

This easy nettle pesto recipe is very versatile; I’ve made it with cheddar and cashew nuts instead of the parmesan and pine nuts and my eight year-old son ate most of it with a spoon 🙂

Pick the top 4 leaves of the nettles (wearing gloves!) when they are young and green in the spring; avoid them after mid-May when they start to flower and the stalks become woody.


1 colander full of nettle tips

50g parmesan

1 chopped garlic glove

50g pine nuts

a good squeeze of lemon juice

150ml olive oil

a good pinch of salt


Firstly prepare the nettles to destroy the stinging hairs. Wash the nettles well. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and then drop in the nettles and blanch for two minutes. Rinse under cold water and then squeeze all the excess water out of them (at this stage we usually drink the cooking liquid as nettle tea, with a drop of honey to sweeten it).

Place the nettles in a blender with the parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pine nuts and blitz to a paste. Now with the motor still running drizzle in 125ml olive oil and continue to blend until the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Pour into a clean glass jar and top with the remaining oil; if stored in the fridge the pesto will last 2 weeks. Serve with fresh pasta, or drizzle over fish or warm salads.


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