5 from 1 vote
stinging nettle pesto
Stinging Nettle Pesto
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
2 mins
Total Time
32 mins

A healthy spring twist to the Italian classic pesto sauce, using foraged stinging nettles.

Course: Main Course, Starter
Cuisine: French, Italian
Servings: 6
Author: Jill Colonna
  • 100 g / 3.5oz stinging nettle leaves stalks removed
  • 30 pine nuts (or walnuts) toasted
  • 2 cloves garlic core removed
  • 40 g / 1.5oz parmesan freshly grated (reggiano, although grana padano will do)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • 200 ml / 7oz extra virgin olive oil
  1. Keep your gloves on at this point, as the nettles still have their sting!
  2. Remove all the leaves from the stalks then soak them in cold water for a few minutes.
  3. Still with gloves on, plunge the leaves into salted boiling water for 2 minutes. The salt keeps the green colour bright. Blanching the nettle leaves like this removes their sting.
  4. Strain the leaves and cool. You could reserve the cooking water (for stock, soups etc.)
  5. Once cool, squeeze out any excess water and place in a food processor or blender with the other ingredients. Add the cheese at the end.
Recipe Notes

Toss the pesto into cooked pasta. There is no need to heat the sauce. That way you get all the beautiful flavours oodling their way between the noodles…

Garnish the dish with crispy nettle leaves which have been deep fried for 30 seconds in 150°C and left to drain off excess oil on kitchen paper.  That way you get Le Crunch and not a sting...

Enjoy with a glass of red Bordeaux, such as a Fronsac, a chilled fruity rosé or a white Vermentino.

The sauce also freezes well.

Jill Colonna