Backyard Forage Pesto

I’ve been spending much of my extra time at home outside in my yard. There are many beautiful signs of spring all around, but one sign that may not be as welcome to some is the emergence of stinging nettles. I find their sting to be a minor annoyance but the sting induced by the complex of chemicals in their trichomes (needles) can cause some people pain.

If you’ve ever felt that you wanted to get revenge on those pesky plants, I’ve got one word for you- pesto! If you didn’t know, stinging nettle is not only edible, it’s quite nutritious. Just last week, to get into the whole end-of-the-world motif, we practiced our foraging skills in our own backyard. My wife came up with a fantastic pesto recipe using nettles, dandelion leaves and kale (sprouting in our compost pile). It’s important to blanch the nettle leaves before eating them as this disarms the sting. It is recommended to wear gloves when harvesting nettles though I just use a small set of tongs to grasp the young tips.

Forage Pesto

6 cups loose nettle leaves (blanched)

2 cups loose dandelion leaves

2 cups loosely packed kale leaves

½ cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic

¼ cup nuts or seeds (I prefer pecans)

½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients in a food processor and enjoy!

All amounts can be adjusted to your liking. While collecting nettle leaves is quite easy once you have your system set, despite the number of dandelion flowers growing about my home, harvesting the dandelion leaves is much more time consuming. This is the primary reason for the greater number of nettle leaves in the pesto.

Eat well and enjoy the spring!