I’m not sure what exactly drew me to the nettles. Perhaps it was the color- a deep, almost blue tint to the green.
More likely it was the nettles themselves. The stingers. How you can literally see the little daggers coming off the leaves. I guess I like a little danger with my cooking.
So when I saw the nettles packaged in sealed plastic bags at the Swank Market (as if they were dangerous animals!) I knew I had to do something with them.
I thought about tea and I thought about juicing. In the end, I elected to make a pesto. Nettle Pesto Pasta, to be more
Nettle Pesto Pasta preparation
But first, I had to figure out how to treat them. With scissors, I carefully snipped the leaves from the stems. Then I plunged them into boiling water for about 3 minutes and let them drip, eventually ringing the water from them. You need to wear gloves while working with nettles. Despite everything, I got stung on my thumb and it took dousing it with lavender essential oil to take away the pain.
After that, I was still suspicious as to whether the nettles would sting me. I mean, you could still SEE them. But they were fine. I made a quick pesto in my food processor by throwing in a handful of walnuts, olive oil, garlic cloves, copious amounts of salt, a squeezed lemon, and a handful of spinach as the nettles wilted more than I expected.
Pesto to me is deeply personal. It’s a taste thing. Like garlic? Go heavy. Like salt? Ditto. Make it according to your tastes. Use whatever nuts you have. Toast them. Or not. I made mine dairy free as I’m not eating dairy these days but it sure is good with a bit or high-quality Parmesan-Regiano.
That night, I made up two different pans of pasta – a light gluten-free corn pasta and my favorite homemade Mama Gizzi freshly made pasta for Adam. I folded the pesto into the warm pasta slowly and served it up. My meat-loving man even forgot there was no meat, that’s how good Nettle Pesto Pasta was.
Nettle Pesto Pasta recipe
1 bunch of nettles
1/3 cup of olive oil or to taste
1/2 cup of walnuts, pine nuts or nuts of your choice, to taste
1 lemon, juiced
4 peeled garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. sea salt
While wearing gloves, snip off leaves from nettles. Plunge into boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Let dry in colander for a few minutes, then wring extra water from nettles. Add nettles and remaining food to food processor and pulse until combined. Adjust taste.
Serve with pasta or crackers.