I recently finished an 8-day work hitch out in the backcountry so have a few days to catch up on things like paying bills and blog posts. I’ll start off with a brief update on some foraging we’ve done this summer. I have been carrying my “Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies” book with me most places and trying to learn some of the edibles in my new backyard. After all, foraged plants come from the ultimate polyculture.
One of my favorite finds has been stinging nettle. Stingining nettle can be found in most places, and is rich in good vitamins and minerals. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about eating something that stings my hand, but it turned out delicious, and I assure you– it didn’t sting my mouth. Nettle can be made into tea or added to lasagna, among other things, but pesto is a satisfying way to use up an abundance of free nettles.
1. We first went for a hike, and found some nettles. They are easily mistaken for wild mint in these parts, but just touch them and you’ll know the difference. We grabbed (with gloved hands) several bunches. It is better to use young plants, or at least the more tender tops of older plants.
2. Separate the leaves from the stems (young stems are ok to use). Be sure to use gloves or tongs for this step.
3. Boil nettle leaves for a few minutes. This is an IMPORTANT step, which takes the sting out of the stinging nettle. After it has boiled about 4 minutes, drain, and save the nettle juice as tea or to add to soup.
4. Prepare pesto mixture by adding all of the following indredients into a food processor:
boiled nettle (about 2 cups or any quantity you have)
2-3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan regiano
2 tablespoons lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
You could easliy use your regular basil pesto recipe and substitute the basil for nettle, or even mix the two.
5. Jar up, and use within a few days. We used ours as a pizza sauce that turned out delicious!