Nettle and Cobnut Pesto – recipe

This is a great wildfood recipe for this time of year, pick the freshest looking top four leaves from the stingers, gloves on, and make sure you pick above dog-weeing height if you’re picking in the city like we were (canal towpath). If you can find a hazel tree (there’s one on Lifford Lane in Cotteridge) then you can get the cobnuts for free too, but if not check out Augernik Fruit Farm at either Kings Norton or Moseley Farmers Market, who are selling great ones at the moment. This recipe makes a decent tubful.

pesto in the makingIngredients

100g (shell on) cobnuts

150g stinging nettle tops (about half a carrier bag)

1-2 cloves garlic

50g grated parmesan

80ml extra virgin olive oil (change amount to get desired texture)

salt and pepper


Dunk your nettles in a deep sink/bowl of cold water and stir round with a wooden spoon to give them a rough wash. Scoop out, and add them straight to a pan of boiling water for 60 seconds to blanch them. Scoop them out and add to fresh iced water to stop them cooking and retain their vibrant colour. After a minute, scoop them out with your hands (they’ll have lost their sting by now) and ring out all the moisture you can. Chop roughly, and put in a blender/food processer. De-shell the cobnuts with a nutcracker, chop roughly and add these to the blender. Chop the garlic roughly and add this too, along with the parmesan. Add a tiny drizzle of olive oil, and whizz on max for 30 seconds. Then whizz more gently adding the remaining oil slowly, until you reach the desired consistency. Taste and season. Store in an airtight container, with a layer of pure oil over the top, for up to 4 days in the fridge.

Nettle and Cobnut Pesto

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