Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Nettle Hazelnut Pesto

Stinging nettles are hot at the farmers markets in Portland right now. The last few Saturdays all vendors have been sold out - but finally I got a bunch. I decided to make a pesto with it mostly because I was scared of handling and figured I could blanch the entire bouquet of sprigs and blend into the trustful Cuisinart instead of picking the leaves off the steams. I went all out Pacific Northwest on this one and used hazelnuts in the pesto. I cut back on the garlic because I didn't want it to distract from the delicate nettle flavor. I used this pesto on top of a french loaf with extra Parmesan to make a pesto bread, then froze the rest and used it with butterball potatoes for my impromptu farmers market dinner party. It was good stuff all the way around. 

Pesto in the buff

Butterballs with Pesto

Nettle Hazelnut Pesto

6 cups raw stinging nettles (blanched down to about 2 cups)
1/2 cup Parmesan
1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

  • Blanch stinging nettles in boiling water for at least 30 seconds to neutralize the stingers. 
  • Rinse well and squeeze out excess moisture.
  • Add all ingredients except nettles in a food processor and whirl to for about 30 seconds to incorporate. 
  • Add nettles and whirl to desired consistency. I like my stuff chunky obviously, as seen above.
  • Use with pasta, bread, potatoes or whatever your heart desires.


Mary Bergfeld said...

Our markets don't sell nettle but early in the spring Bob and I will hunt for it. Young nettle does not sting and it makes a wonderful soup. Your pesto sounds amazing. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said...

I'm not sure if I've tasted these before but I like your thinking behind the recipe. They sound like "horta". Hope you're enjoying the summer.

Three-Cookies said...

I've heard lot about nettle but don't think I have tried. I will keep my eyes open at markets. Combination with hazelnut sounds interesting

Helen said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't stinging nettles called "tsouknides" in Greek? If yes, then I've definitely eaten them before. My late aunt use to make a delicious pita from tsouknides. Unfortunately they also have the ability to flare up a gall bladder attack (if you eat too much of it) which eventually sent my aunt to hospital to remove a gall bladder stone the size of a walnut. So the family says :)

That being said (yep, too much info), I love the look and sound of this pesto. I've never seen stinging nettles in the farmer's market over here before. Maybe Canadians haven't clued into it's awesomeness yet? Have you ever tried asparagus pesto? It's really good, especially if you're like me and aren't crazy about asparagus.

Peter M said...

Stinging nettles: the garlic bread with them on top!

Shaheen said...

Nettle is my favourite weed to eat. I really really liked the flavour. You should consider picking your own (with gloves on of course) - it will be easier on your pocket.

I would be a happy bunny to be tucking into your homemade nettle pesto - perhaps spread on some crusty bread. Yum.

Esi said...

I tried nettle for the first time a couple months ago. Love

Banana Wonder said...

Mary - Have you blogged a recipe for the nettle soup? I would love to try it!

Peter - Thanks, you hortafagas for life!

Three-Cookies - I'm sure they have it all over where you are since I think the climate is somewhat similar to the Pacific NW.

Helen - I am sure you are right about the tsouknides (confirmed by Peter below). That is too bad about your Aunt! I will be careful with my nettle intake per gall bladder squeals. I haven't tried asparagus pesto yet, but have been tempted to make it since it's in season and I have seen some delicious recipes on the ol blogosphere.

Peter - Efxaristw for the confirmation, sir!

Shaheen - I need to get into urban would be awesome if I could just go out there (with gloves in hand) and harvest my own! rar.

Esi - Amen sista!

Dream of cakes said...

This dish looks delicious! and you are right... Greek do the best cakes :-)!!!!!

Gastronomer said...

Am I the last person to have not tried stinging nettle? What's the flavor like? I haven't a clue.