Seek out younger plants and new growth for superior taste and tenderness. Discard tough stalks, and wash and shake dry the leaves.
Don’t be shy about adding other spring greenery to the mix. Tap into the early season abundance of chickweed and cold-weather leafy greens, like arugula and radish tops, to add a piquant blast of pungent flavor to this healthy spread. Feel free to add other spices, too, as you like.
- leaves and tender tops from about 5 bunches stinging nettles
- 2 large garlic cloves
- A fat pinch of salt
- freshly ground pepper black pepper, to taste
- 2-4 tablespoons pine nuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, or walnuts
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Place nettles and garlic in food processor and reduce to a coarse puree. Add seasonings and nuts and pulse a few more times. Add olive oil with the machine running and process until homogeneous.
Store in fridge for up to a week, or freeze in plastic containers for consumption throughout the year.
Be free to experiment and add other early herbs into the mix. Is that garden tuft of chickweed calling you? Young dandelion greens in the meadow? Onion grass? The first sprigs of oregano and thyme? Why not!
Fill a glass vessel—at the farm, we use 1-quart and ½-gallon wide-mouth Ball canning jars—as full as you can with fresh stinging nettles. Cut or tear them as needed; no need to remove stems.
Cover nettles completely with apple cider vinegar. Fasten the lid.
Leave the jar on a shelf or window sill to infuse for at least a month.
Decant the infused vinegar and use as a finishing touch on cooked dishes or as a mineral-rich, scrumptious base for vinaigrettes.