Nettles lose their sting when blanched, and they are well worth the effort. This nutritionally packed plant is useful in many different recipes. This pesto is a favorite creation by Bastyr University student Karen Woodburn, who studies in the Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Culinary Arts program. She enjoys it with pasta and sauteed mushrooms, as shown in the accompanying photo.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add nettles. Allow the nettles to cook for about 3-5 minutes, until the leaves are brightly colored and wilted.
Transfer the cooked nettles into a large bowl of ice water to preserve the color.
Once cooled, remove the leaves from the stem either with kitchen shears or by hand (the nettles are safe to touch at this point). Place the leaves on a clean kitchen towel and ring out as much water as you can.
Place the leaves in a food processor with the lemon juice, pine nuts, parmesan and garlic. Pulse to chop and combine the ingredients. Add olive oil and process until desired consistency, adding additional oil if necessary.
Salt to taste, and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to enjoy.
Related: Learn how Pacific Northwest tribes relied on nettle as a fortifying early-spring food.