This is a new one for me and has quickly become a firm favourite. It was so easy to make and is a delicious alternative to your normal basil-based pesto and as a bonus it’s vegan!
As you all know, nettles are EVERYWHERE! However, the nettles you want to eat or use in your cooking are the new fresh growth nettles which tend to be available in Spring and early Autumn. We just want the nettle tops, none of that tough nettle stem found on the older and taller nettles.
Another important thing to note before you choose your nettles is where they are growing. Nettles tend to grow in disturbed, over-grown areas, and can often be found in places where contamination may be present. Try to avoid using nettles from roadsides or along footpaths as these may be contaminated with pollution or animal bi-products.
Take care when collecting the nettles, as I am sure you are aware, they give you a nasty sting. The new fresh growth nettles are particularly viscous, and the sting can sometimes be felt for a day or 2. Take a pair of gardening gloves with you and use secateurs to chop off the tops into your basket or bag.
Blanching the nettles
To remove the stings, the nettles will need blanching. This is a process involves boiling, cooling and drying the leaves.
The process for blanching is as follows:
Add the nettle tops to boiling water and boil for approximately 90 seconds
Remove from boiling water and add to a bowl of ice and water and leave the nettles until completely cooled
Now remove all excess water from the leaves.
Using a tea towel squeeze the water from the leaves
Making the pesto
It is argued the best way to make pesto is in a pestle and motar. The name pesto comes from the word ‘pound’, so arguably the pestle and motar techniques is try. However, I made a very large quantity of pesto so the food processor technique worked best for me.
The recipe included below made approximately 700g of pesto (which is a lot!). Adapt quantities to make a more individual quantity.
This recipe works in dishes similar to that of basil pesto. Add to pasta, a toastie or one of my favourites cover the top of a piece of salmon and cook inside foil in the oven.
Vegan Nettle Pesto
A delicious alternative to basil pesto with garlic and cheesy notes