Nettle & Wild Garlic Pistou

Jane and I have been visiting the local hedgrerows and forests recently and have regularly come back with a bumper crop of nettles and wild garlic.  It is such a wonderful time of year for these abundant herbs, they’re also easy to identify so there is no reason why we shouldn’t all be taking advantage of one of natures finest freebies!  The forests reek of fragrant garlic!!

This is a pistou (French/ Italian) not a pesto (Italian), mainly due to the lack of nuts.  If you add pine nuts, or another nut, you’d probably call it a pesto.  Otherwise both are potent blends and something rather special to have hanging around the fridge.

There are a vast amount of edible shoots, leaves and berries that we are not aware of (by we, I mean us at the BHK!)  We have books, we have TV programmes, but you cannot beat getting out there and having a look at whats growing for yourself.  For example, we have recently learnt that young hawthorn leaves are a rare sweet treat.  We’re taking it easy and adding a few new foraging delights to the menu each year.

Wild garlic and nettles have magical health properties.  Nettle tea is a staple at this time of year and this pesto blend makes the most of both.  It can be kept in the fridge for while and adds a unique flavour to anything it touches.  Dressings, soups, stews, bread, to name a few we’ve stuck it in.

Nettles were used extensively in ancient Tibet and the Buddhist saint Milarepa was said to live on them when on retreat, turning green and enlightened.  The kind of story that gets our imagination whirring.

Jane and I have gotten ourselves into a multitude of busy situations, gardening being but one.  There has been much rain recently and today we managed to get out into the garden and pop the potatoes into the earth.  We also have much beetroot, cavolo nero, spinach, rocket, rainbow chard, sunflowers and I can’t remember the rest.  Needless to say, we are excited about the prospects of the Beach House Garden this year and have our fingers well crossed for a mild, wind-free summer.  Very, very, very wishful thinking.

The Bits   

60g nettle leaves, 40g wild garlic leaves, 4 garlic cloves (crushed), 100ml evoo, 100g vegan parmesan (Violife do a good one), 1 pinch salt and 2 pinch pepper

Do It

Blanch nettle quickly (10 seconds) in boiling water, this will keep them nice and green and take the sting out of them!  Plunge (great word) into cold water.  Pat dry.

Place all in a blender, blitz together until paste formed.  Add a little more olive oil if you like in runny.

For old fashioned style, use a pestle and mortar.  Simple as this.


In a pistou stew, see below, or spread on toast!  It really comes to life tossed in warm pasta.

We Love It!

It literally grows on trees (or below them).  This is our type of gardening, wander around pick it, no digging or engaging the brain.  Go for a walk with a plastic bag and one rubber glove (those nettles take no prisoners) and you have a harvest on your hand.

Foodie Fact

Nettles contain bags of chlorophyll, calcium, iron, trace minerals, vitamins and proteins.  They can be made into paper, hair lotions, thread, soil enricher (great on tomatoes!), disinfectant for  stalls and stables, cups of tea…..It is a tonic, diuretic, astringent, anti-asthmatic, chi strengthener, anti-anaemic, laxative and a nettle brew can heal damage tissue.   It strengthens kidneys, lungs, intestines and arteries with regular use.

Pistou Stew - Recipe to follow

Pistou Stew – Recipe to follow

Categories: Foraging, Healing foods, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “Nettle & Wild Garlic Pistou

  1. Gorgeous food, gorgeous pictures, gorgeous folk :). Cheers for sharing this lovely pesto. I get the nettles here but not the ramps. We do get a triangle leaved garlic sub here we call “Onion weed” and we also have a native leek someplace around here but by the time I managed to isolate it I would probably have died of starvation! ;). I might just have to use the nettle quotient and stick with regular garlic. Can’t wait for the pistou as at the moment, soup is my go-to evening meal in our rapidly approaching iceage of a winter 😉

    • Bring on the ice age I say, with soup like this! It is a tough life foraging when you are not anywhere near an expert, things look the same and you don’t want to be popping dodgy berries in your mouth. Mum taught me that. Summer has arrived here and Im down in London for a while so its even hotter! WahoooH! I may even take my coat off….Happy days Tazzers, lee and janexxxx

      • Lol! I remember London…lovely and HUGE and we walked for a whole day and covered about “diddley squat” of it 😉

  2. I love nettles but am scared to pick them. Luckily they’re all over restaurant menus at this time of year. 🙂 My northern garden sounds like yours! I’ve dared to plant a few cherry tomatoes but know not to hope for too much. 🙂

    • We have courgettes going, but the slugs have already had a field day, they love the exotic stuff! Unfortunately there are not many restaurants around us serving nettles, hopefully that will change. Great to hear from you Emmy. Have good times, lee

  3. I’ve never cooked with nettle, but have always wanted to! My only fear is being stung to death while attempting to pick them haha. This looks great, and sounds like a good ‘first nettle’ recipe for me 🙂

    • It certainly is, I wear lovely yellow marigold rubber gloves when picking the nettles and am careful where I put my feet. Well worth a try and makes a refreshing tea too. Happy days, lee

  4. Sounds divined 🙂

  5. A lovely & tasty vibarnt green recipe that i love! I grow wild garlic in my garden!

  6. Now this looks like something I can try, as I have a great heap of nettles growing on my old compost heap behind our Allotment shed.. which are free from animals and exhaust fumes .. Glad you got your potatoes in .. The price’s are rising with the bad weather last year…

    Love that dry stone wall behind you both… My Dad used to do dry stone walling in his spare time for farmers in the Derbyshire Dales.. Love to walk there…

    Thank you for the recipe..

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