Urtica dioica, Stinging Nettle, is one of the most nutritious, delicious, and useful plants of spring in Pennsylvania. Famous throughout history for making cord from its tough fibers, it is truly a powerhouse of nutrition. It is packed with chlorophyll, calcium, iron, trace minerals and protein. It is good for lactation and arthritic joints, and has been used as a blood cleanser. It is also one of the most delicious wild greens to eat. I have begun to make videos of my frequent Weed Walks. Each one contains information about identifying, using, and appreciating the beauty of our most common weeds in eastern Pennsylvania. Please see my Stinging Nettle youtube video here.
Here is a recipe for Nettle and Wild Greens Pesto
– Gather 3-4 cups of fresh nettle, stems and all. Wear gloves if you are sensitive to the sting. I purposefully let myself get stung. For some people, it is an effective arthritis treatment. Wash in fresh water. Boil for 1-3 minutes, until tender. Save the water to drink as tea. When cool, squeeze most of the water out. Discard any fibrous or stringy stems if necessary. Chop coarsely to yield about 1 cup.
– Gather a cup of other fresh mixed greens or herbs. Say, some mint, dandelion, bittercress, chickweed, baby kale or any other green.
– Place all greens in blender with 1/2 cup any kind of nut. Cashew, pine nut, almond. Any nuts will work. Note that walnuts will change the color of the pesto from bright green to dark. Add a little salt, pepper, lemon juice, garlic and 1/3 cup olive oil. If you use cheese add about 1/4 cup grated Paremesan or any hard cheese. If you don’t use cheese, add 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast for that wonderful umami flavor. Pure and voila! Keeps in refrigerator for a week or so, and in freezer for 6 months.