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Wild Spring Pesto


Nettle pesto, also known as pesto d’urtica, is a traditional Italian recipe for springtime. Be sure and don gloves before handling nettles, they do bite, though the sting is temporary and harmless. Dandelion greens can be mixed in to increase bitterness and liver-cleansing properties. Try this on pasta, bread, or swirled into soup.


3 cup
raw Stinging Nettles
1 cup
raw dandelion greens
3 medium
garlic cloves
1⁄2 cup
pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
1⁄4 cup
extra-virgin olive oil
  to taste
salt and black pepper
2 oz
parmesan cheese, finely grated (optional)
1 tbsp
lemon juice


Bring a 6-quart pot of salted water to boil. Using tongs or gloves, measure 3 packed cups of nettle leaves, then add them to the water for 1 to 2 minutes, until wilted. Drain immediately, then place the greens in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Cool, strain and squeeze dry using a tea towel to remove every drop of moisture that you can. Leave dandelion greens raw, wash and coarsely chop. Coarsely chop drained nettles to make about 1 cup. Add the nettles and dandelion greens to the bowl of a food processor with the garlic, nuts, cheese and oil. Pulse until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice to brighten flavor, and pulse again to incorporate.

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Wild Spring Pesto
Generous Cup
SourceAdapted by Anita Bermann from Edible Portland's Stinging Nettle Pesto, author Ellen Jackson, 2011.
Prep time
20 minutes
Cooking time
Total time
20 minutes