Stinging Nettle Pesto

Stinging Nettle Pesto

The term 'superfood' has been thrown around quite loosely in the nutrition world, but when it comes to plants in that category, Stinging Nettle is one who really shines. With vitamins A, C, and K, as well as B vitamins, this nutrient dense green packs one healthy punch. High levels of fatty acids, essential amino acids, calcium, fiber, iron and protein make Nettle an amazing ally for folks who enjoy a plant based diet.

As the name suggests, Nettle is covered with brittle hairs filled with several chemicals including histamine and formic acid. Many people (myself included) have a reaction to this that can burn or itch and may leave a rash for a few days. It is important to wear gloves while harvesting and handling the Nettle, and prepare it in ways that will neutralize these needle like hairs.

While blanching, cooking, or drying all remove the sting, one of my favorite ways to eat Nettles is by making a pesto. Using a high-speed blender or food processor breaks down the Nettle enough for us to eat it raw without having an uncomfortable time. Pestos are a great way to include more nutrient dense greens into our diet, and I really enjoy getting creative with them at this time of year when there are so many greens popping up in the garden. Pesto can be easily frozen, enabling us to make large batches and save for later in the year.


  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 cup fresh stinging nettle, packed
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (more to reach desired texture)
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste

Add all ingredients to the food processor and blend adding more olive oil if needed until it has reached desired texture. Enjoy on crackers with cheese, spread on toast, as a sauce for pasta or added as a condiment for sandwiches. 

Personally, I enjoy using this recipe as a loose guideline, changing it up depending on the time of year and what greens or herbs I have available. I also get adventurous with what nuts I use to try out different textures. I encourage creativity and playfulness in the kitchen, and hope you enjoy testing different ways to make pesto!