Nettle Pesto Recipe | Foraging for nettles

Nov 26, 2014 | Foraging And Feasting, Wild Food Recipies, Wild Starters

Nettles can be pretty pesky and tend to be not very loved; until you try this recipe for nettle pesto that is. For those that are new to this foraging malarky, we have shared this nettle pesto recipe. It’s an easy how-to that rural and city folk can get their head round.

If you love foraging, nature, adventures and getting outdoors this easy and super healthy recipe is for you…

nettle pesto recipe jar wild food

The Forage

Foraging is a natural treasure hunt – with the treasure being wild food! Use a pair of keen eyes and perhaps a little handbook. You city folk might be counting yourself out of this microadventure, but foraging is for the urban and rural human. Promise! We’ve got a nettle pesto recipe and challenge for you to prove it…

The Stinging Nettle. Don’t Be Alarmed!

Although nettles can be precarious, they are more useful than their sting lets on. And as they go, this is an easy forage. The stinging nettle seems to be one of the first thing us Brits learn to identify.(Perhaps because of fear of pain alongside its prolific presence).

Nettles’s grow indiscriminately, and you will find them whether your home patch is one of rolling hills or rising concrete heights. Packed full of vitamin C, nettles are good for us and you can do more with them than the go-to nettle soup. The prime time to get picking them is in spring/summer but for now you are still good to go on the nettle patches that were cut back and that have had a second fresh growth.

The Picking

Sure, named for a reason! The easiest way then to gather your haul is using some scissors and pretty thick gloves (picking the top, freshest leaves only). However, we’ve got a more grizzled challenge that might impress… The art to picking nettles without getting stung is this:

Combat the direction of the tiny hairs that cover the nettle and that harbour the stinging potion. The trick is to move your fingers upwards, grabbing the stem below the young leaves at the top. (Kudos to you if you give it a go!).*

The Feasting – Nettle Pesto

wild food forage homemade nettle pesto

And now to the kitchen. Here’s a little recipe for nettle pesto…


  • 6 packed cups of raw and washed stinging nettles
  • ¾ of a cup of parmesan or other hard and similar cheese
  • The juice of ½ a lemon
  • ½ a cup of toasted pine nuts
  • A couple of cloves of garlic
  • A glug of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

How-to (Note – pesto comes from a word meaning ‘pound’ so we always reckon its best to make this using a mortar and pestle but if you don’t have one, you can use your blender)

  1. Firstly, boil your nettles for ½ minutes, then cool them off by dumping them in a bowl of ice water. Secondly, drain and squeeze out as much moisture as you can using a tea towel or something similar
  2. Pound your toasted pine nuts in the mortar and pestle, adding in the garlic and doing more of the same
  3. Next chuck in your cheese, nettles and lemon juice and mash until its pretty well broken down
  4. Add as much olive oil as you fancy until it reaches the consistency you are after (less for a paste, more for a sauce)
  5. Lastly, season and enjoy your nettle pesto!

pine nuts lemon garlic recipe

pestle morter wild food recipe

There you have it. It’s also good to remember too that a leaf, like an apple, as it is exposed to air will discolour. You can combat this by adding a layer of olive oil on top of the nettle pesto in whatever jar you keep it in. We reckon you want to have it eaten up within a couple of days (shouldn’t be too hard).

Find Out More

Yep. Getting outside, getting to know your environment, getting that little bit muddy and that little bit rosy cheeked is the good stuff. If you fancy an adventure and a trip to the coast, for yourself or your little humans, then come say hello. From foraging to feasting, bushcraft to fishing, wild camping to retreats, kayaking to coasteering- we live life through adventure. Nice to meet you.

Learn More About Our Foraging Adventures

*There is a way to forage that is not so good for the environment- that includes taking more than you need, picking rare things, and the issue of permission. You can have a trawl through the web to find out good/bad ways to get wild feasting and discover more recipes like our nettle pesto.

See Our Recent Blogs Here

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