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Su B Nettle pesto

Nettles are springing out of the ground right now as the weather gets milder, fresh and juicy and full of useful minerals and vitamins.

In the days before clever storage and long-distance transport, they were vital to people in northern latitudes when there were no fresh vegetables to be had. You’ve probably come across nettle soup, but here’s another way to make use of this early spring bounty.

Nettle Pesto (courtesy of Christine Haughton at

Wearing gloves to guard against the stings, collect enough young nettle tops to fill a one pint saucepan. If you can find wild garlic (Ramsons or Allium ursinum), gather a bunch of leaves and flowers too, and some sprigs of garlic mustard (Jack-by-the-hedge or Alliaria petiolata). Blanch the leaves in boiling water for one minute, and drain.


Nettle leaves, garlic mustard and wild garlic, blanched and drained (if you can’t find wild garlic, two crushed cloves of garlic will do)
A handful of fresh basil leaves
4 ounces of pine nuts
4 ounces of grated parmesan, pecorino or grana padano cheese
8 fluid ounces of extra virgin olive oil


Put everything into a liquidizer, and blend. Spoon into jars; if you cover the pesto with a little olive oil, it will keep better. Store it in the fridge and use like any other pesto.

Su has an excellent Herb Handbook available to buy directly from her website or from Amazon.

Meet The Author...
Su Bristow
Who Am I?
I studied at the School of Herbal Medicine for four years, and qualified in 1989, becoming a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists ( The road to herbal medicine led from my early interest in organic gardening and healthy eating, through the study of social and physical anthropology at Cambridge, where I specialised in medical anthropology. What fascinated me was how people deal with their health problems when they have only the natural resources around them, and their own ingenuity. I went on to learn massage and reflexology, and worked at a residential naturopathic clinic, where I learned about the use of diet and other natural ways of healing. After qualifying as a herbalist, I set up practice in mid-Devon. Since then I have continued to expand my expertise, with counselling skills, first aid, and knowledge of the Chinese and Ayurvedic systems of herbal medicine. Besides one-to-one consultation, I have also taught evening classes, students of the Westcountry Massage Association, and various private courses.
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