There is a right way to process stinging nettle and a wrong way to process it. The right way is to use heavy rubber gloves to hold each individual nettle plant while removing the leaves from the stem and washing the leaves (or vice versa). This allows one to handle the stinging nettle without actually having to deal with the stinging.
And then there is the wrong way to process stinging nettle. Guess which one we did?
Other than that, the actual processing was fairly straight forward. To eliminate the stinging to make it safe to eat you either need to steam or pulverize the leaves. In order to preserve all of the nettle's nutrition, we decided to make a raw pesto. So here is the recipe for you to try yourself.
Vegan Pesto with Nettle Leaves
Place these first four ingredients into a food processor and process until is forms a fine flour.
- 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 4 cloves garlic
Then add these three ingredients and process again.
- 1/2-2/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2-1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Finally and carefully add the nettle leaves and process (while still using your gloves!) You may need to process one cup of leaves at a time to obtain a smooth texture.
- 4-6 cups packed nettle leaves
Just the act of processing the leaves will remove the stinging hairs, even without cooking. We were skeptical at first that we didn't need to cook the leaves before eating the pesto. But we have had nettle pesto like this on two separate occasions, and there was thankfully no stinging sensation associated with eating it.
Once you have made the pesto, you can use it however you would standard pesto. We used it on mini pizzas and then again tonight on spaghetti squash (since we currently are avoiding grains...which means that pasta was out). But the options are limitless. So get to it and enjoy!
(This post was shared at Old Fashioned Fridays, Homestead Barn Hop, Natural Living Mondays, The Backyard Farming Connection, Tuesdays with a Twist, and the Maple Hill Hop, the Down Home Hop, Home Acre Hop, and From the Farm Hop)