Ever try stinging nettles? While bothersome in nature, once harvested they have quite a few medicinal properties. Studies have shown stinging nettles have antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-ulcer, astringent and analgesic capabilities. The leaves of the stinging nettles can be steeped into a tea or can be stemmed and cooked similar to spinach. Once cooked, they can be added to soup or stew. Nettle has also been pureed and used in recipes like polenta, green smoothies, salads and pesto. Cooked nettle is a great source of vitamins A, C, protein and iron.
Try this fantastic stinging nettles pesto recipe. You can toss pesto with pasta, spread on seared fish or chicken, or use as a dip for raw vegetables.
Makes approximately 3 cups
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 pound stinging nettles
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup firmly packed grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Fill a large pot halfway full with water. Add 1/4 cup salt and bring to a boil.
Fill the sink or a large bowl with cold water. Using gloves or tongs, submerge the nettles in the water and let them sit for 5 minutes. Remove the nettles and discard the water. Wearing rubber gloves, pull the leaves from the stems and discard the stems.
Put the nettles in the boiling water and boil for 1 minute. Drain and spread the nettles on a baking sheet. Let cool completely. Squeeze out as much of the water as possible and coarsely chop.
Place the nettles in the bowl of a food processor with the mint, garlic, pine nuts, and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Process until the mixture has formed a paste.
With the machine running, pour in the olive oil. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the cheese. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.