Homemade pesto sauce

Nettle Pesto

Springtime in the Pacific Northwest is a great time to forage for nettles and make my favorite pesto. Yesterday, I went out with my son and collected enough nettles for about a third of a grocery bag. We cut off the top of the stem and leaves, and then brought them home.

To prepare the pesto, I boiled the nettles in a pot of water for three minutes, and then put them in a strainer and an ice bath to keep their vibrant green color. I divided the nettles into two batches, one with Parmesan, pecans, salt and olive oil, and the other with Parmesan, cashews, hemp seed, salt and olive oil. Tonight, I'm going to make them over gluten free elli - I can't wait!

What are Nettles?

Nettles are a type of plant that have small, sharp stinging hairs on their stems and leaves. Nettles are native to much of the world, and are often seen growing in fields and woods. They can be used for various purposes, including for food and medicinal uses. The leaves of nettles can be eaten cooked or raw, and are high in vitamins and minerals. Nettle tea is also a popular beverage, and can help to boost the immune system and provide relief from allergies. Nettles can also be used to make natural dyes and fabric dye, as well as in herbal remedies.


Nettle Pesto Recipe

Per batch:

  • 40 nettle tops (the top 1/3 of the plant; collect using gloves!!)
  • 6 oz parmesan (can substitute with 3 oz nutritional yeast for vegan option)
  • 3 peeled garlic cloves 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, more depending on desired consistency
  • Combination of approx. 1 cup nuts/seeds: cashews, pecans, walnuts, hemp seeds


1. Boil nettles for 2 minutes, strain, then place in a large bowl of water with ice and “cold shock” the leaves (this helps them keep the vibrant green color). Press the excess water out.

2. Add the nettles to a food processor along with the parmesan/nutritional yeast, garlic cloves, salt, and nuts/seeds. Process on high, slowly adding in the olive oil until the desired consistency is reached.