Food from the ‘tube 2: Nettle Pesto

The last food from the ‘tube post was quite some time ago, and I thought I’d revive this as the Innertube Network is quite bountiful at the moment – only you might not have noticed.  Cycle or walk along the Innertube Network at the moment and no doubt you’ll come across patches and patches of nettles.  

Nettles, yes nettles!  You read that right!  I know nettles get a bad rap, but they are actually edible, with a taste not too dissimilar to spinach, and lose their sting after cooking.  The spring time is the best time to pick them: once they’ve come into flower leave well alone as they can upset your urinary tract (nice!) and they make good homes for ladybirds in the summer (who lay their larvae on the leaves in June and July).

There are lots of things you can make with nettles, but this year I’ve been making nettle pesto with my foraged leaves, and thought I’d share the recipe with you:

nettle pesto

You Will Need:

One colander full of freshly picked nettles

45g of pine nuts

45g of grated hard cheese

4 raw cloves of garlic

140 ml of olive oil

10ml of lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

1/4 teaspoon of chilli flakes (or more or less depending on your taste)


Wash your nettles, and bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil.  When the water is boiling add your nettles to the pot and then boil for two minutes.

Remove your nettles from the pot and place in a bowl of cold water.

Toast your pine nuts in a dry pan until golden brown.

Add the nuts and all the other ingredients, with the exception of the nettles, to your food processor.  Pulse for a minute or two until you have a grainy texture.

Remove your nettles from the cold water and squeeze out as much water as you can.  Don’t worry, they won’t sting you at this point.

Add your nettles to the food processor, and pulse the mixture for a minute until it’s green and grainy.

Whilst your food processor is still running slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the pesto is quite gloopy.  You may ending up using more or less olive oil than 140 ml depending on what your prefered consistency is.

Transfer the pesto to a sterilised jar and store in the fridge for up to one week.  Use as you would any pesto:

nettle pesto pasta


Just a word on picking nettles: pick the top leaves only.  The older leaves and thicker stems can taste a bit bitter, and make sure you pick where dogs haven’t urinated (or worse!), and always wear gloves so you don’t get stung! 

If you enjoyed this then I blog more seasonal recipes like this, and other tips and ideas on living a more sustainable life over at Moral Fibres.

– Wendy


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