Nettle pesto

Home-made nettle pesto | H is for Home

The nettle patches around here are in fine form at the moment. For the past week or so, I’ve been telling myself off for not carrying rubber gloves and a large plastic bag when I go for a dog walk. Finally, I remembered to do it yesterday and picked myself a bagful of bright green, vibrant nettle tips.

Freshly picked nettle tips |H is for Home

I’ve previously shared recipes for nettle soup and nettle loaf. This time I’m making a batch of nettle pesto.

Grated Parmesan | H is for Home

The nettles take the place of basil and I’ve replaced the more traditional pine nuts with walnuts.

Nettle pesto ingredients in a food processor bowl | H is for Home

The taste and smell is much earthier than traditional pesto but can be used in exactly the same way. It’s a very versatile store cupboard ingredient. I like it with an extra glug of olive oil and mixed through plain spaghetti then finished with a spoonful of grated Parmesan. I also like adding a few small dollops of pesto to the top of a pizza before putting into in the oven. Justin thinks it’s great with roasted or pan fried meats too – and has just made chicken breast wrapped in smoked ham and filled with nettle pesto butter for this evening’s meal.

Cakes & Bakes: Nettle loaf

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home-made nettle loaf

Foraging season is upon us again. A fortnight ago I made a batch of wild garlic butter.

nettle loaf ingredients

This week, the stinging nettles are just right for picking. We had a patch in a corner of our allotment that was looking lush and healthy. It’s now had a little pruning session – and is the star ingredient in a nettle loaf.

basic bread dough

Don’t forget, if you’re going to try this recipe, take a pair of gloves and only pick the tips and first two leaves – much like tea-picking, I reckon!

nettle leaves lining a banneton

The nettles make for a rustic, flavoursome and attractive loaf.

bread dough proving and nettle leaves lining a banneton

I’ve used a basic white loaf recipe; but a half & half mixture of white and wholemeal will enhance the earthy, nutty flavour of the nettles. And nettles are SO good for you

kneading nettle leaves into dough wearing kitchen gloves

Pin this recipe for later!

Prune and almond tart with Armagnac
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hr
For the pastry
  1. 225g/8oz plain flour, sifted
  2. ½tsp salt
  3. 130g/4½oz butter, chilled & diced
  4. 1½-2tbs cold water
For the filling
  1. 300g/10½oz mi-cuit (semi-dried) Agen prunes, stoned
  2. 4tbs Armagnac
  3. 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  4. 35g/1¼oz ground almonds
  5. 55g/2oz caster sugar
  6. 200ml/7fl oz crème fraîche
To serve
  1. icing sugar (for dusting)
  2. additional crème fraîche (for serving)Home-made prune and almond tart ingredients
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  1. Put the prunes into a bowl with the Armagnac and leave to soak for at least an hour, turning them occasionally to help them absorb the alcohol
  2. Put the flour and salt in a food processor or mixing bowl. Add the butter and work together to the fine breadcrumb stage
  3. Stir in the water with a round-bladed knife until it comes together into a ball
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and kneed briefly until smooth
  5. Rest the pastry in a fridge for about 30 minutes before using
  6. Roll out the pastry and use it to line a greased, loose-bottomed flan tin (2½ cm deep, 24cm diameter)
  7. Prick the base all over and chill for 20 minutes
  8. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/400ºF/Gas mark 6
  9. Blind bake the pastry case for 15 minutes then remove the blind baking gubbins and bake the case for a further 5 minutes
  10. Set the case aside and reduce the oven temperature to 190°C/ºF/Gas mark 5
  11. Drain the prunes over a bowl to reserve the remaining Armagnac
  12. Add the ground almonds, egg, sugar and crème fraîche to the Armagnac then beat together until smooth
  13. Distribute the prunes over the base of the pastry case and pour over the almond mixture
  14. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer comes away clean
  15. Allow the tart to cool before dusting with a little icing sugar
  16. Serve with additional crème fraîche
Adapted from Rick Stein's French Odyssey
H is for Home Harbinger

Nettle soup

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Vintage Young Pontesa bowl with home-made nettle soup | H is for Home

Whilst we were out walking this Easter weekend we came across a patch of lovely young stinging nettles…

Vintage glazed pottery mixing bowl full of nettle leaves | H is for Home

…ideal for making our first nettle soup of the year. Fortunately we had the forethought to take some gloves and a carrier bag with us.

Vintage bowl full of nettle soup with old wooden spoon | H is for Home

It was delicious with crusty bread!

Vintage mixing bowl full of nettle soup with a splash of cream | H is for Home

Here’s our simple recipe if you’d like to try it out for yourself:

Nettle soup
•    1 medium onion
•    couple of sticks of celery
•    1 small leek
•    1 tablespoons vegetable oil
•    1 large knob of butter
•    1 vegetable stock cubes
•    4 pints of water
•    4 medium potatoes peeled & chopped
•    large bowl/standard-sized plastic carrier bag-full of nettle leaves (only use tips & young leaves)

1.    Roughly chop onion, celery & leek
2.    Put in large, thick-bottomed saucepan
3.    Sweat over gentle heat in vegetable oil & butter for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally
4.    Add water & potatoes to the saucepan
5.    Crumble stock cube into saucepan
6.    Bring to the boil & simmer for ½ hour
7.    Add nettle leaves & simmer for a further 20 minutes
8.    Blend & pass through a sieve
9.    Season with salt & black pepper to taste
10.  Add a splash of cream to finish (optional)

green dotted horizontal line

Will Forage for Soup: Gourmet Soups from Wild Greens

Will Forage for Soup: Gourmet Soups from Wild Greens is a foraging experience and how-to cookbook rolled into one. This digital book includes:
* The most common greens for foraging, their flavour and resources on where to find them.
* How to clean greens for soup.
* Preserving your bounty in the freezer with very little space required.
* Combining greens in soup for best flavour.
* Blanching versus boiling your greens – nutritional considerations.
* How to make a nutritious and flavourful soup base with vegetarian options.
* Tips for bringing out the flavour in your soup’s seasonings.
* A resource on spices so that you can create your own signature soup.
* Six recipes using common foraged greens.

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