Last week I wrote about our outing to harvest ramps (or more properly, European bear garlic). There is another wild vegetable available early in the spring: stinging nettle.
Stinging nettle has a distinctive sting when you touch it, but boiling or drying the plant negates the sting. It is a powerhouse of nutrients, packing many healthy benefits. A very shortened list includes the facts that: it is high in vitamin A, K, calcium, manganese, and magnesium; it supports the adrenals, kidney, and lymph system; is anti-inflammatory; increases milk supply for lactating women. In short, it’s sure to promote your health and well-being. It can also be used to fertilize garden soil and fed to animals.
To use in soups, I put some in a food processor before adding to the pot, as the children are not keen on the texture. A healthful tea can be made from the plant, dried or fresh (it’s nice mixed with mint). I’ve heard of nettle beer. You can use it as you would spinach, for example my mom makes a mean lasagna with nettle.
But my favourite use is to make pesto with it. It’s oh-my-eat-it-with-a-spoon delicious. You can use pesto on pasta, in sandwiches and burgers, pizza or mini vegetable-pizza, in salad dressings, in soups or sauces, or, of course, by itself.
I’ve included ramps in this amazingly delicious but health supporting pesto, but if you don’t have them just substitute with garlic cloves. In the past I’ve used classic Parmesan, but also bryndza (a soft Slovak sheep cheese) and feta. Use your imagination! This time I made it dairy free with nutritional yeast, and to be honest I don’t miss the cheese. If you can’t eat nuts (allergic, AIP, etc), they can be easily left out.
I just had some with raw zoodles (zuchinni noodles) for supper and as I write I already want more.
Nettle Ramp Pesto, Vegan
75 g (about 3 cups packed raw leaves) dry stinging nettle
25 g (about 2 cups packed) ramps
80 ml (1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) unrefined salt
40 ml (2+1/2 tbsp) nutritional yeast
20 g (1/4 cup) walnuts (preferably soaked)(omit for AIP)
Blanch the nettles in boiling water for 30 seconds to one minute (you can rinse the nettles off beforehand if you wish, but I’m rather lazy and take my chances). Drain and rinse with cold water. Squeeze the water out of the nettles (you’ll be left with maybe 1/2 cup).
Place all ingredients except walnuts in a food processor, blend until smooth. Add walnuts (or other desired nut) and pulse until nuts are in small pieces. Have a spoon handy to relish this wild pesto!
What other kinds of pesto do you like? Have you foraged for wild vegetables before?
Shared at Fat Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Hearth and Soul, Gluten Free Wednesday, Allergy Free Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Fight Back Friday, Real Food Friday, Simple Meals Friday, Savoring Saturdays, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, AIP Recipe Roundtable