by Susan Teitelman, Herbalist and Certified Holistic Nutritionist
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica, Urticaceae family) is one of my favorite plants. It is highly versatile: this plant can be used for food as well as medicine. Nettle leaves and stems are usually gathered in late spring or early summer. The leaves and pliable stems can be made into a fresh plant tincture or tea, blanched and used like cooked spinach, or dried for tea. You can use the lightly cooked leaves and stems in soups, lasagna, as pesto, or really anyway you would use cooked greens. Try out our nettles pesto recipe below — it is super tasty and packed with vitamins and minerals.
Nettles are extremely nutrient rich, as they are high in chlorophyll, calcium, potassium, and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. The medicine is gentle and nutritive; when someone is sick or off balance, this is a wonderful go-to plant medicine because it supports the body, giving it an extra boost no matter what the illness may be.*
Nettles Pesto Recipe
1 pound fresh nettles, blanched
¼ cup olive oil
3 ounces parmesan or pecorino cheese
2-3 large garlic cloves
¾ cup walnuts
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a pot of water to a boil and carefully place nettles in pot. Leave in the water about 3 minutes, until leaves are wilted (this will ensure their stingers become inactive). Nettles will greatly reduce in size after blanching (much like spinach). Remove from water and strain in colander, pressing out excess water. Combine nettles and all other ingredients in food process and blend until mostly smooth. You can experiment with increasing or decreasing the amount of ingredients (for example, some might prefer more garlic or lemon). Put over pasta or consume as a dip. Bon appétit!
*The medicinal plant uses and function claims in this article have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are intended for educational purposes only.