We’ve had an organic garden as our major food source for 35 years now. Because we live near the salt water of the Salish Sea, we typically are able to grow lots of leafy greens through the Fall and Winter months. Now and then we will get some hard freezes. Nothing like the Mid-West or East-Coast, but in the teens or 20’s (f), for several days in a row, enough to shock the mustards into withering, and draw the attention of hungry beavers, mountain beavers, and bunnies to our kale and Brussel sprouts plants. This was one of those years when the freeze left us without our own greens. I have really missed them, for when I eat our greens in the dark of winter, I feel as though I’m directly digesting sunlight! So now that February and March are pushing for spring, and the stinging nettle tops are up at the edges of our garden, what a delight it is to harvest and steam them, as has been done by the First Peoples of this place since the beginning!
Here’s an easy Nettle Pesto Recipe, to be altered and augmented as you like it.
5 cups fresh clean washed nettle tops (1st 4-6″ sprouts, if taller, then just use the leaves only, no stem)
Steam these til limp, drain well, need approx. 1 c
Chop in a food processor with 1 tsp salt, 1 T lemon Juice, 1-3 tsp garlic
Add 1/2 c Olive oil, 1/2 c toasted nuts (I like walnuts)
Blend well, then add 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese and blend again
Serve on pasta, rice, quinoa, potatoes, toast, etc
And don’t forget to harvest your tall nettle stems in the Fall. They will make great cordage!