After my recent success with wild garlic I've been wondering what other foodie freebies nature's bounty has to offer, and a day in my embarrassment of a garden meant that I was left with a glut of freshly harvested nettles. I've seen the odd recipe for nettles (yes, the stinging variety) and was keen to try my hand at it. I like nettle tea, so thought it would be a fairly safe bet and after all, they are free.
The April issue of BBC Good Food magazine has a piece on wild garlic and nettles by the clever Barney Desmazery, so you should grab yourself a copy if you can. I read his 'Wild Pesto' recipe for inspiration, and indeed to learn that you must cook and blanche the nettles before use to remove the sting. I tweaked his recipe by forgoing the parmesan as I had none and it's healthier. I also used olive oil rather than rapeseed as I prefer it, and I added half a hot chilli and a few sprigs of basil.
Essentially put all of the below into a food processor in these rough quantities and keep tweaking to achieve your desired flavour:
Cooked, blanched nettle leaves - not stalks, which can be bitter. I only had about 10 sprigs.
Pinch of fresh basil
Tbsp pine nuts
Pinch of salt
Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
Splash of water
1/2 chilli inc. seeds
Squeeze of lemon juice
If you have enough nettles, then make a giant batch of it and package it up to give to friends and family or freeze it as nettles aren't good once they've flowered around late May-June time. As Barney says, you will feel ridiculously smug handing these hand foraged, hand made little pots over and rightly so.
I used mine on a nice pork chop and served with some kale, but of course the possibilities are endless.