Stinging Nettle Pesto

Stinging Nettle Pesto Recipe

By VegetaFull

🔪Prep Time: 10 minutes

👩‍🍳Cook Time: 10 minutes


Deactivating the stingers

6 cups of stinging nettle leaves (leaves with stems, if the shoots are young and tender) cleaned and well rinsed

2 quarts of boiling water with

1 tablespoon of kosher salt

Coldwater bath for cooked nettles


1 cup of walnuts

1 garlic clove, minced (use 2 cloves if you love garlic)

2½ tablespoons of lemon juice

2 teaspoons of lemon zest

¾ teaspoon of fine sea salt (we are going to add salted nettle broth later)

½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast

½ cup of cooled nettle broth (more if you want a pasta sauce consistency)


1First, bring 2 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of kosher salt to a boil. Using a gloved hand, immerse the stinging nettles into the boiling water and cook until just wilted for about 30-60 seconds. Immediately remove the nettles and plunge them into a cold-water bath to halt the cooking and preserve the vibrant green color. Save the salted cooking liquid (nettle broth). We will add that to the pesto later.

2After they are cooled, remove the nettles from the cold water and squeeze them into a ball with your hands, wringing out all the excess water. (At this point you can freeze the nettles for later use.) Chop the ball into smaller pieces so that it will be easier to blend into a pesto.

3Add 1 cup of walnuts to a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground, followed by the nettles. Pulse until the walnuts and nettles are nicely blended. Add the minced garlic, lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast. Pulse until a chunky paste begins to form.

4Next add the reserve nettle broth, and process, to thin the pesto until a creamy, spreadable consistency is reached. You may need to add more broth if using as a pasta sauce. I like a looser pesto to toss with pasta and grains, and a thicker pesto to spread on flatbread or vegetables. Taste for flavor and add more salt, pepper, or lemon as desired.

5Note: 4 cups of fresh green carrot tops are also excellent in place of the nettles.

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