Spring is here and we continue to gain a little more daylight everyday! These cool, crisp sunny days feel really good coming out of the long winter and what better way to celebrate spring than to gather some nettle! There may be other spring herbs popping up too. Look out for dandelion flowers, cleavers, chickweed and wild onion. However nettle will be the base for this wild pesto I am sharing with you today. Nettle is a wonderful herb to have in the apothecary as it is a versatile food and medicine. Fresh nettle can be used in tea (my favorite), tincture, juiced, cooked and steamed. You just want to make sure the nettle is either blanched or covered in oil to inactivate the hairs that sting. Once dried, the hairs are inactive but some can remain. Visit the herbarium section of the website for a more information on Nettle.
2 cups assorted wild edible greens and flowers (nettle is the preferred base and then add in a variety of fresh herbs like cleavers, fiddlehead, 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 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.