Stinging Nettle Pesto

Ever since my mom bought me a food processor for Christmas, I’ve been making pesto like some sort of obsessed, crazy woman. In fact, at one point in the last month, every single plastic container we own (which, admittedly, isn’t that many) was filled with pesto. Just yesterday, when I whipped up two more batches of pesto and put them in the fridge, Eric made the comment, “whew, I was getting worried… we didn’t have much pesto left!” It’s almost come to be an expectation that we have pesto at any given time!

I’ll share with you guys some of the different kinds of pesto I’ve made in the next few weeks (my sister said to me the other day, “remember when we used to think pesto could only be made with basil?”), but my latest version involves stinging nettles. I had a bunch leftover, even after I made stinging nettle soup the other day, so I decided to make pesto. Nettles definitely have a milder flavor than, say, basil or other herbs, but it is still distinct and delicious.

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And you know what I love about having so much pesto around all the time? When Eric and I get home from long days of work, running, etc etc, it’s so nice to be able to pull dinner together in a matter of minutes. My whole wheat thin spaghetti cooks in less than 10 minutes; stirring in pesto, edamame from the freezer, and arugula couldn’t be easier. And lately, to add a dash of protein, I’ve been throwing a poached egg on top of almost everything.

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Stinging Nettle Pesto
Adapted from Lucid Food

1 big bunch nettles (sorry I can’t be more precise with this!)
1/3 cup toasted nuts – I used cashews since they were in the freezer, but pine nuts are more traditional
1/3 cup fresh parmesan cheese
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 raw garlic clove
salt & pepper

First, get a pot of salted water boiling and prepare an ice bath off to the side. When the water is boiling, dunk the nettles in (using a tongs!) for about 30 seconds. Remove quickly and dunk them into the ice bath. When cooled, squeeze out as much water as possible, then transfer to a food processor. Toss in the rest of the ingredients except for the olive oil and start to process. Slowly drizzle the olive oil in; you should end up with a paste-like consistency. You can process until very smooth or leave it just slightly chunky, like I prefer it. Be sure to taste it! Any of these ingredients can be adjusted; sometimes a splash of acid – lemon juice or vinegar – tastes great also.

Also, you can save the water that you boiled the nettles in… it’s a great start to a veggie stock.

You can do all kinds of things with pesto – I regularly use it on pizzas, sandwiches, in soups, etc etc… but the most classic and easy way is to toss it with some al dente pasta. I always always always use whole wheat pasta, too – I’ve come to prefer the flavor even.

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