Nettle Pesto

Pesto on granite

I think I’ve been watching too much of The Island. For those readers who have more of a life than I and are confused as to what it is, it is a television programme based on a group of men and women trying to survive on a tropical island. Whilst watching them struggle to survive on fried scorpions I sit there marvelling how if  were on this programme I’d be killing pigs with my teeth, harpooning lobster daily and have mastered the art of hammock building. Inspired by the notion of foraging for survival, I turned my attention to my garden. Setting out with gloves, secateurs, wellies, netting, bottle catchers I set out to survive out of the land…. well nettles were the only thing about edible in my garden and so nettle pesto it was. Not to be deterred that I hadn’t returned to the kitchen with a spit roasted hog, I laboured on with my nettle feast. Surprisingly, the end result of my nettle pesto was actually rather good – it’s a richer more irony taste than basil and still has the wonderful green vibrancy. Seeing as most of the other ingredients involved in my ‘foraged’ supper were actually from the supermarket I realised that I would probably last 12 hours on a tropical island, but in the meantime it’s a fond pastime imaging that I’m a female version of Bear Grylls.

Ingredients: (Taken from Good Food)Nettles

  • 150g young nettle
  • 50g Parmesan, finely grated
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • zest ½ lemon and a good few squeezes of juice
  • 50g pine nuts, toasted
  • 150ml rapeseed oil


  1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, then drop in the nettles and cook for 2 mins. Drain and run under cold water, then squeeze out as much water as possible and roughly chop them.
  2. Put the prepared nettles and garlic in the small bowl of a food processor, along with the Parmesan, garlic, lemon zest and pine nuts. Blitz to a rough paste. Season, and with the motor running slowly, add almost all the oil. Taste, season and add a few good squeezes of lemon juice. Transfer the pesto to a clean jar and top with the remaining oil. Will keep for two weeks.

Directions for use: Try it with roast lamb – a delicious Sunday lunch.Pesto on lamb


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