Stinging nettles can be used as a nutrient-dense substitute in any dish calling for spinach or kale, but here’s a great way to enjoy them on their own.
Stinging Nettle Nutrition
Stinging nettle has a flavor similar to spinach, and is rich in vitamins A, C, D, K1, and many minerals including iron, potassium, manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, silica, iodine, silicon, sodium, and sulfur. Nettles also provide chlorophyll and tannin, and they’re a good source of B complex vitamins.
Stinging nettle has high levels of easily absorbed amino acids, and they’re ten percent protein—more than any other vegetable!
I like to pick nettles in large quantities so I can juice them, steam them, freeze them, or put them in soups and other dishes. I also dry them for tea, and tincture them in alcohol.
Handling Stinging Nettles
Always collect nettles using gloves, and wear a long-sleeved shirt. Also clean and chop nettles wearing gloves, too. Once you’ve cooked them a little (or even soaked them in hot water for a bit), the stingers are deactivated, and the plant becomes wonderfully edible.
Other Pesto Recipes You’ll Love
Fresh Nettle Pesto
- 10 cups stinging nettle leaves, loosely packed (will reduce after blanching)
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 small mild to medium chili pepper, seeds and ribs removed
- 1 small onion, peeled
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
- 1/2 cup walnuts, previously soaked and dried
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts, previously soaked and dried
- 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar, or raw apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp light miso
- 1/2 tsp. ground coriander seed
- 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
- Wash nettle leaves carefully, and shake or spin off any excess water.
- Place nettles in a pot with no additional water, cover and heat on low until just wilted, about 10 minutes. (Watch them carefully!)
- Chop the garlic and chili in the food processor.
- Add nettles and remaining ingredients and process until smooth.
- Pesto will keep in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days if tightly covered.
- Freeze to keep longer.
- Enjoy on crackers, veggies and more!