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Nettle pesto with pasta
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4.75 from 4 votes

Nettle Pesto

This is a basic pesto recipe with nettles subbing in for basil. You can use basil in its place, or parsley or some other nice green thing. You can also use different nuts; walnuts make a good pesto with nettles. I prefer Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, but any good hard cheese will do. Since you've blanched the nettles, they will not oxidize and turn brown easily. So you can store this pesto in the fridge for up to a week, maybe more.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: nettles, pesto
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 96kcal
Author: Hank Shaw


  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 heaping tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons grated cheese (any hard cheese will do)
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup blanched, chopped nettles
  • Salt
  • Olive oil (use the good stuff)


  • Pesto is best made with a mortar and pestle, thus the name, which means "pound." You can make this in a food processor, but it will not be the same. First add the toasted pine nuts and crush lightly -- as they are roundish, they will jump out of your mortar if you get too vigorous. If you are using a processor, pulse a couple times.
  • Add the garlic to the mortar, then pound it all enough so that the pieces don't fly around. Add the salt, cheese and the nettles and commence pounding. Mash everything together, stirring with the pestle and mashing well so it is all fairly uniform. With a food processor, run the machine so everything combines, but isn't a smooth paste. You want it with some texture.
  • Start adding olive oil. How much? Depends on how you are using your pesto. If you are making a spread, maybe 2 tablespoons. If a pasta sauce, double that or more. Either way, you add 1 tablespoon at a time, pounding and stirring to incorporate it. If you are using the processor, drizzle it in a little at a time. Serve as a spread on bread, as an additive to a minestrone (like this one), as a pasta sauce or as a dollop on fish or poultry.


Calories: 96kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 18mg | Sodium: 107mg | Potassium: 36mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 170IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 139mg