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This spring pasta is tossed in a delicious nettle pesto. Vibrant, green, and flavorful, this pasta is not only delicious it is full of nutrients!
Health Benefits of Nettles
Don’t let these scary guys fool you with their bad reputation for stinging. Nettles have long been considered one of the most healing plants available to us on the planet. The list of health benefits is truly astonishing -with some of the standouts being nettle’s incredibly high iron content, liver-supporting properties, anti-inflammatory properties, and cleansing and detoxing qualities.
In much of what I’ve seen and read, nettles are especially beneficial to women- reducing PMS symptoms and even menopausal symptoms. I encourage you to do your own research and see for yourself.
What do nettles taste like?
Health benefits aside, there is another reason to incorporate nettles into our diets this Spring.
They actually taste really amazing! They have an earthy and mysteriously herbaceous flavor — unexpectedly delicious in pesto. This simple spring pasta is fast and easy to make, and really highlights the nettle flavor.
Where do you find nettles?
Nettles grow in the wild like dandelions and are often foraged. Their vibrant green, saw-toothed leaves are covered in fine “stingers,” giving stinging nettles their intimidating name. These days, they can be found at your local farmers market in the spring months.
How to Deactivate nettle’s Sting?
Once cooked, the little stingers melt away. So remember, just cook them first. One of the easiest ways, is just to blanch them for a minute or two in boiling water. They can also be sautéed or even roasted.
Ways to use nettles
Once cooked, they can be used as you would spinach. Try them in quiche, spanakopita, fritatta or even stuffed in ravioli. Once cooked, they are harmless and are an amazing source of flavor and nutrition.
How to make Nettle Pesto
Blend with traditional pesto ingredients…olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and Parmesan, and you end up with a delicious twist on the traditional basil pesto.
Toss with your favorite pasta and garnish with lemon zest, and grated Parmesan. Here you have it…delicious Nettle Pesto.
More nettle recipes you may like
Spring Pasta with Nettle Pesto
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 30 mins
- Yield: 3-4 1x
- Category: Pasta, vegetarian, spring
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: Northwest
Spring Pasta with nettle Pesto, toasted pine nuts and lemon zest. Full of nutrients and so delicious!
- 8 oz linguine- (or any pasta, I used spinach flavored)
- 3– 4 cups raw stinging nettles
- 2– 3 medium garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted- reserving 1 T for garnish
- 1/4 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper ( white or black)
- 1/4 C Parmesan cheese, finely grated -reserving 1 T for garnish
- 1 T lemon zest -for garnish
- Bring generously salted water to boil in a pot big enough to hold nettles and stems. Once boiling, using tongs, place the nettles in the pot (stems ok). Blanch in rapidly boiling water for 1 ½ minutes. Using tongs, remove from water and place in ice water bath, to chill rapidly. Separate leaves from bigger stems, placing all leaves and some of the smaller stems on a clean kitchen towel. Wring dry. You should have just about 1 cup of nettles.
- Place them in a food processor with the pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, cheese, salt, pepper and oil. Pulse until until uniform, but not too smooth. Scrape down sides to make sure all is combined.
- Boil pasta in generously salted water. Often I’ll just re-use the nettle water over again (whatever you prefer). Once pasta is cooked to al dente, remove with tongs and immediately toss with the pesto. Taste and adjust salt and lemon. Add chili flakes if you like!
- Garnish with lemon zest (important), pine nuts, and grated Parmesan, serve immediately.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 427
- Sugar: 1.9 g
- Sodium: 388 mg
- Fat: 21.5 g
- Saturated Fat: 3.8 g
- Carbohydrates: 50.8 g
- Fiber: 12.2 g
- Protein: 13.2 g
- Cholesterol: 3.6 mg
Keywords: nettle pesto, nettle recipes, nettle pasta recipe, nettle pesto recipe, how to cook with nettles, nettle recipes, spring recipes
Can nettles be used in late spring and summer? Its the middle of June and I have so many nettles I could farm them lol
Yes, they can! Best to use the top 4 inches of the plant.
Can this be made vegan?
I haven’t tried, but probably, give it a go!
used home-made pasta and added some tomatoes- it was delightful!
thanks! came out great ! I have lots of nettles in my garden.
Thanks Shirley! Glad you liked this!
We want to make this but cannot find stinging nettles. Would dandelion leaves be a substitute or do you have other suggestions. If yes, should I blanch them also.
Chris a d Tom
Hi Chris, great question! I have not personally tired with dandelion. I’m not sure you would have to blanch, I’d try with out blanching. Give a try? Let me know if you do and how it turned out.
Hi! I have cooked with dandelion leaves before and they can absolutely replace any green in most recipes. I’d blanch them once or twice as they tend to be bitter. Make sure you have a bowl of ice water nearby once you are done blanching them.
This recipe with nettles is absolutely delicious and everyone in my house loved it.
Where are these bowls from?
This is stunning – I am absolutely in love, xo!
I love how many dishes I’ve seen this Spring using nettles! I had no idea they were so versatile, I’ll have to give this recipe a try!
Thanks for the nettle tutorial Sylvia. I have never tried them and now I can hardly wait. Will check out our Farmers’ Market here in NC.
Nettles growing like crazy here in Ireland just now so I’m off to pick some. Thank you!
Sounds so dreamy!
Hi Sylvia, this really looks good, I live the idea of foraging for some types of food and I believe nettles can be one of them. Great recipe and pics!
This looks great! I love the Ballard Market – it’s wonderful!
It’s the best!!!
Someone was just telling me how wonderful nettles were the other day, I’ve never tried them — this recipe is just what I need to inspire me, I’ll check for them at our farmer’s market this weekend! I love different spins on classic pesto, even perfection can get a little boring after a while 😉