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Recipes | Wild Spring Pesto

Combine the nutrition of nettles and dandelion greens in one delicious dish.

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 cups 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
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated (optional, can substitute an additional 2 tablespoons nuts for a dairy-free version)
1 tablespoon 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.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Makes: 1 generous cup

Adapted by Anita Bermann from Edible Portland's Stinging Nettle Pesto, author Ellen Jackson, 2011.

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