Fresh Nettle Pesto Recipe (dairy-free)

Ali Segersten Mar 30, 2024

Nettles are one of the first wild foods to emerge in the spring, and, undoubtedly, one of the most nutrient-dense wild plants! They thrive in rich, moist soil, and in sunny locations. You may find them blanketing a deciduous forest floor in early spring before the tree canopy emerges, or in an open, mowed field. The fallen leaves of autumn create a fertile environment for nettles to emerge from in early spring. After the dense, cold winter months, nettles arrive and remind us to lighten our loads, to cleanse, and to restore. Nettles can be dried and steeped into a deeply nourishing herbal infusion, blanched and made into pesto, or added to soups, stews, and egg frittatas. The nettle "sting" quickly gets deactivated through cooking or dehydration. 


If you are feeling depleted, in adrenal burnout, or feeling any type of stagnancy after months of consuming denser winter foods, then consider adding nettle tea to your daily routine or harvest fresh nettles to add to your meals. All you need is a paper bag or basket, a pair of leather gloves or gardening gloves, and a pair of scissors. You'll want to harvest nettles while they are young and only several inches high. Each year nettle season begins at a different time depending on how warm or cold the season has been. Use a dehydrator to dry your nettles or blanch and freeze them to add to soups, pestos, egg dishes, and smoothies. To blanch nettles, simply bring a pot of water to a boil, then add the nettles to the boiling water using a pair of tongs and blanch for 1 to 2 minutes. Place the nettles into an ice water bath to immediately stop the cooking process, then wring them out to remove the excess water before adding them to a recipe or freezing. 


Nettles are a rich source of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, vitamin K1, carotenoids, and chlorophyll. Not only are nettles full of vitamins and minerals, but they are a rich source for many bioactive phytonutrients such as quercetin, rutin, apigenin, catechin, kaempferol, gallic acid, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, and many more. These phytonutrients can inhibit inflammatory pathways in the body, reduce oxidative stress by scavenging free radicals, help to balance blood sugar, reduce blood pressure, and help to relieve environmental allergies. Wild plant medicines, like many plant foods, possess an inherent wisdom to deeply nourish and restore balance to the body. We just need to be ready to receive all the gifts they have to offer....


About the Author

Ali Segersten

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University and a Master’s of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine from the University of Western States. She is a Functional Nutritionist, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Alissa is the founder and owner of Nourishing Meals®.

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