Spring officially starts next week but I cant help but feel like it's already here. These sunny crisp days feel really good. I celebrated this morning and gathered some early spring herbs. I mostly collected nettle, but there was also an abundance of cleavers, chickweed and wild onion. Nettle is a wonderful herb to have in the apothecary as it is a versatile food and medicine. I like to use it as the base for this wild pesto recipe I am sharing with you today. Fresh nettle can be juiced, cooked and steamed. Once dried the hairs are inactive but some can remain. Visit the herbarium section (coming soon!) of the website for a more detailed look at nettle, chickweed, dandelion.
2 cups assorted wild edible greens and flowers (nettle is the preferred base and then add in a variety of fresh herbs like cleavers, fiddle head, redwood sorrel, wild onion, forget me knots, violets, dandelion, red flowering currant, ect)
3 cloves garlic
1 cup walnuts or pine nuts (I like to use a combo; use more nuts if you like a thicker pesto)
1/4 lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup parmesan
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the nettles for 1-2 min. Remove them with tongs and add to an ice bath. Once cool, strain and squeeze excess water out. Add to a food processor with fresh wild herbs, garlic, nuts, lemon juice/zest, parmesan cheese. Pulse into a course paste, stream in olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add more nuts to thicken is desired. Serve immediately or store the fridge for a few days. Use in salads, sandwiches, roasted veggies, chicken and fish.