Over here in Berlin, a lot of people are still a bit adverse to eating things like nettles. I think the memory or the War is still too recent; food was often scarce and people had to forage. I, too, grew up with stories my Oma told me about cooking nettles. They never seemed appetizing to me. After all, they hurt you. However, when they started popping up as weeds in my garden, I thought I’d try them. It’s a good and nutritious way of controlling them, after all. It turns out that they are delicious. They have an herby, spinachy taste to them. One of my favorite ways to use them is in a pesto. Here is my recipe.
– 1/2 cup or more nettles. These can be tricky to harvest. You can wear thick gloves. I tend to hover a strainer by the plant and cut off the leaves, letting them drop into the strainer. Rinse the leaves, and blanch or boil them. It’s VERY important that you do this, as cooking is what takes away the sting. If you don’t do this, you will have a very painful meal!
– fresh basil, to taste
– 3 tbsp pine nuts or walnuts (or a mixture), roasted
– 1 large clove of garlic
– olive oil
– salt and pepper
Combine first 4 ingredients in a blender. Spoon into a bowl. Add enough olive oil to get a normal pesto constancy. Season. Serve on pasta and top with parmesan. If it’s not mixing with the pasta, add more olive oil.