A flavorful blend of summer forage and fall bounties
For those of you like me that grew up around stinging nettle, you’ll know not to touch it with bare skin. It’s covered in hypodermic-like needles that, upon a slight touch, cause a seriously uncomfortable outbreak on the skin that’ll make you wish you never came across the stuff. My sister and I would go adventuring on the farm and these devilish plants would be avoided like the plague.
You can imagine my surprise when I found out that it’s edible! Not only is it edible, but it’s damn good for you, too. Rich in vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium, stinging nettle tastes like a cross between spinach and cucumber.
Before we jump into how to make a delicious pesto, we’re going to have to blanch the stinging nettle. This removes the stuff in the plant that makes your skin sting like a bugger. Do not skip this step.
How to Blanch Stinging Nettle
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and add at least 1 tablespoon of salt. This helps the nettle keep its dark green color.
- While that boils, prepare a bowl of ice water. Once the nettle has boiled for around 30 seconds (or until wilted), remove immediately and place in the ice water.
- When the nettle is completely cool, drain and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. It will be safe to touch and, more importantly, safe to eat!
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move into the steps on how to make the stinging nettle and pumpkin seed pesto.
Stinging Nettle and Pumpkin Seed Pesto
- Food processor
- Mortar and pestle
- 1 cup stinging nettle blanched
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds shelled and roasted
- 2 tbsp parmesan grated
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- salt to taste
- Gather the ingredients.
- Take the pumpkin seeds, parmesan, garlic, and combine in a food processor. From there, pulse on and off until the seeds are almost ground. I used a mortar and pestle for this step but a food processor is convenient.
- Once done, add the stinging nettle, parsley leaves, lemon juice, olive oil, and pulse until all ingredients are combined. To get a great texture, make sure to not over-pulse. It’s small things that make a recipe great.
- Transfer into an adequately beautiful bowl and serve. Refrigerate for up to two days.
Whether it be through hunting, fishing, foraging, exploring, or cooking wild food, I believe this way of life develops a passion in us that connects us to a deeper understanding of ourselves and the land around us.