A couple of days ago, I noticed the nettles bursting through in the garden - a real sign of spring. A weed, but welcome, because the butterflies love them. And because they taste so good, at least while they are young.
Here's a quick recipe for a homemade convenience food that will sit happily in your fridge for most of the week. This nettle mess works both as an green sauce / salsa verde AND as a pesto. It's a thrifty recipe, as it uses breadcrumbs to cut down on the nuts and cheese. It's delicious too. We ate it with vegetables at the beginning of the week, and finished it today on pasta, thinned down with a little of the cooking water.
Mint (if you've got it, or other herbs, or none)
Pick a colander full of young nettle tops (you'll need gloves). Rinse them, then plunge them into boiling water for one minute to blanch them and take the sting out of them. As soon as the minute's up, tip them back into the colander (keep the water, it's full of goodness and can be drunk like a tisane) and run under the cold tap to stop them cooking. When they're cold, squeeze out the water.
Put a slice of wholemeal bread into the food processor. Add a chunk of cheese, a peeled clove of garlic and the nettles and a little mint. Blitz, then add oil in a stream. I used rapeseed oil. Keep tasting, adjusting the amounts. Hard to say how much oil, as it depends on what you are going to do with the sauce.
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