My Nettle plant is quite happy lately.
He’s sprouting lots of new little nettle stems and trying to take over the entire window of sunlight. He’s pretty, but he bites. It’s a nasty little sting, if you’ve ever touched nettles. I can vouch that the formic acid in the tiny leaf hairs really does feel like a bee sting. So yes, wear GLOVES!
You might be wondering why and how you’d ever want to eat such a cranky, stinging plant, right? It’s because nettles are such a huge green super food, they leave kale and spinach in the nutritional dust. Plus, it only takes 30 seconds of boiling to remove the sting.
High in potassium, iron, sulphur, vitamin C, vitamin A and B complex vitamins nettles provide a high amount of dense nutrition with very little calories. The sulphur makes them great for the hair, skin, and nails. In addition, the tiny hairs, besides emitting histamine, also release serotonin and acetylcholine, two neurotransmitters that help to suppress appetite and also settle mood. Finally, nettles have gentle diuretic properties, which help relieve water weight gain, flush the body of toxins, and purify the blood.
Now that we are all in agreement that nettles are awesome, let’s make some pesto! (When summer arrives and the nettle plant really explodes in size, I will increase the ratio of nettles to basil. But for now, I’ll take what I can get.)
- 15-20 Nettle leaves
- 4 c Basil (loosely filled, not packed)
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 2 Tbsp walnut oil
- 1/3 extra virgin olive oil
- squeeze of lemon
- ¼ c filberts (hazelnuts)
- ¼ c finely grated parmesan
- ground pepper
- black lava salt (or kosher salt)
- Makes about 1 cup
Boil the nettle leaves in 2 cups of water for 3 minutes. Strain out the nettles and save the water. Immediately cool the leaves in ice water. Squeeze out all the water, to the last drop.
Blend all the ingredients together, adding more olive oil if needed to reach the right consistency.
I love pesto with pasta, but tonight we went with a pesto pizza for a change. For toppings we added red pepper, red onion, yellow tomato and fresh mozzarella. It’s pretty hard to mess up pizza, but this one was extra yummy with the pesto instead of tomato sauce. If only this was a scratch-n-sniff blog.
BONUS! Here’s what you can do with all that nettle water you saved:
Nettle & Lavender Tea: boil 2 cups of nettle water with 1 tsp lavender. Strain out the lavender and drink with honey!
Nettle Hair Rinse: After shampooing, pour a cup of nettle water through your hair. (leave in or rinse out) The high vitamin and mineral content strengthens hair and adds shine. After this harsh winter, mine could really use a nettle rinse.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Kimby Maxson / Editor: Renee Picard
Photos: Amy Cheever