The stinging nettle popping up is one of the sure signs of spring. I’m just starting to learn how to cook with nettles. The biggest thing to remember is to wear gloves when harvesting and washing them in the sink! Believe it or not, the sting goes away once you cook them. By harvesting just the tips you will let the plant grow again next year, which is either a good or bad thing depending on your view of stinging nettles. 🙂
Nettle Sweet Potato Pesto
about 1/2 pound nettle tips (half of a one gallon plastic bag, slightly packed)
A handfull of chives, coarsely chopped
about 1/2 pound sweet potato, shredded (or 1-1/2 c shredded)
1/2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper
4-6 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 Tbsp. olive oil (or sunflower oil)
In a large pan pour 2 Tbsp. sunflower oil and add the shredded sweet potatoes and chives. Cook for 7-10 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are cooked through. While the sweet potatoes are cooking wash the nettles. A salad spinner works great (be sure to wear gloves when handling!) Add to the sweet potatoes the garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and the cleaned nettles and cover. If the mixture looks dry, pour in 1/4 cup of water, and cover. Let the nettles steam for 5-10 minutes, until they are cooked through, stirring occasionally. Pour everything into a food processor and process until smooth. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt, or garlic, depending on your taste buds. Serve with pasta, or spread on a piece of toast.
Spinach Almond Pesto
This is an easy recipe to use for many different types of greens. I will make this with kale or swiss chard, or a combination of the two when they are in season for a quick and easy lunch in the summer.
1/2 pound spinach – the fresher the better. We picked ours from our Hoop House.
1/3 c toasted almonds
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil (or sunflower oil)
pinch red pepper flakes
Toast the almonds in a skillet over medium heat until they start to turn brown and get fragrant. Pour the almonds into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Pour the oil into the skillet and
heat the minced garlic for 2 minutes. Add the greens, lemon juice, salt, red pepper flakes and cover until the greens have cooked through. For spinach this only takes 3 or 4 minutes. Pour the whole contents of the skillet into a food processor and pulse until well combined. Serve over crackers or pasta. I also use this as a base for home made pizza instead of tomato sauce.