Even I was intimidated by an item from my last CSA share.

Stinging Nettles. 

I was not thrilled to be receiving a hostile plant. I have enough hostility in my life and now I have to be worried about being attacked by my CSA share? Where does it end?

When we received our newsletter, we were told to handle the nettles with rubber gloves. Though they were washed, they still may be able to sting us.

This did not calm my fears.

At all.

But I have to say, I was also intrigued. This must be some green that people are willing to risk injury to eat. No one had thrown their nettles in “I-don’t-want-this” box and all of the recipes online seemed to begin with praise for this violent produce. What’s worth risking life and limb?

Blanching the Nettles

 Research told me that I needed to blanch the nettles before eating them and only the heat would truly take away the sting.

To blanch them, simply get a pot of water boiling, throw in the nettles (preferably while wearing rubber gloves and other protective gear), return water to a boil, and then place the nettles in an ice bath to shock them. Remove them from the ice bath after 10-15 seconds.

I wish I could share pictures but I was too anxious about being attacked by the nettles that I didn’t dare turn my back to get a camera.

Once blanched, I was much more at ease.

Nettles and Nooch Pesto

Research also told me that pesto and soup were my main vehicles for this hostile green. I decided to start out with an easy pesto recipe. That way if I didn’t care for the nettles, I wouldn’t be down as many ingredients.

Now I have to admit, pesto is not my favorite condiment. I have two main problems with pesto: the required cheese ingredient and dragon breath. Cheese because it requires me to take a lactaid just to try the darn stuff and the raw garlic gives all consumers dragon breath. Not cool.

Consider this recipe my compromise with pesto.


1 cup blanched nettle leaves, removed from stems

Blanched Nettle Leaves in Blender

1/4 cup mixed greens or spinach

Mixed greens in blender

1/4 cup raw walnuts

walnuts on top of mixed greens and nettle leaves in blender

juice from 1 lemon (approx. 2 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon oil

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast or nooch*

nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and oil in blender

*you could sub in parmesan cheese for you are a dairy eater

In a food processor, blender, or Magic Bullet,  combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. If the ingredients are a little dry, add a little more oil as you blend.

nettles and nooch pesto in blender

Recipe Review: A-maz-ing. The nettles and the lemon juice give this a pesto a springy kick that you just don’t find in your typical basil/pine nut variety. This would be great with some grilled tofu or meat, or in the pasta recipe below.

It would also be a great dip for veggies or sun-dried tomatoes, a spread for bruschetta, the list goes on and on. It’s not bad on a spoon either!

Nettles and Nooch Pesto Pasta


Nettles and Nooch Pesto
1:1 ratio of dried whole wheat noodles and sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup fresh broccoli
Tofu or cooked protein of your choice (optional)

  1. Heat a medium pot of salted water to boiling.
  2. Add sun-dried tomatoes and pasta. Cook for 4-5 minutes (halfway through the pasta cooking time). Add broccoli.
  3. Cook until broccoli and pasta are tender. Drain and toss with pesto and protein (optional).
  4. Serve on top of a bed of lettuce.
Nettles and nooch pesto pasta
Nettles and Nooch Pesto Pasta
Recipe Review: This is my new favorite Spring recipe. Now that I am over my fear of nettles, the only anxiety I feel is whether or not I will get more in my CSA share this week!
Also, I just want to point out that this is a great way to use your overly dry sun-dried tomatoes. By cooking the tomatoes with the pasta, the pasta takes on some tomato flavor and you end up with big, juicy tomatoes. Yum!
I added tofu as a protein and fried the tofu with grapeseed oil and italian seasonings. Highly recommend!
This is a quick and easy light Spring dinner. 
Do you have any Spring ingredients that leave you cowering under the table? Any other ideas for using Stinging Nettles (aside from self-defense)?

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