Nettle Pesto Recipe

Nettle Pesto Recipe

Joyful Living acupunturist, Ashley Schiavone shares with us here a Spring cleanse-approved recipe, featuring an often overlooked but uber-nutritious green: stinging nettles!

Fresh and green foods tonify the liver according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and one of my absolute favorite greens right now is stinging nettles.

Just a few of the reasons I love nettles:

Builds Qi
Nettles are an amazing and gentle qi tonic with a widespread effect in the body.  They act as a tonic on several different systems: endocrine, circulatory, respiratory, skin and several organs (including liver and kidney).

Restores Adrenals
Nettles can be used to help regulate the entire endocrine system (think thyroid, hormones and even body metabolism).

Loaded with Vitamins
Nettle is a powerhouse of nutrients! It’s high in calcium, zinc, iron, trace minerals, protein and many vitamins including vitamin A and vitamin C. This herb is a great way to gently increase the actual iron stores in the body since it not only contains iron, but also includes the necessarily co-factors (vitamin C and amino acids) that are necessary for us to absorb iron properly. The full (whopping) list of the vitamins and minerals nettle has to offer: calcium, magnesium, chlorophyll, chromium, cobalt, iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, sulphur, niacin, protein, manganese, selenium, silicon, tin, vitamin B (especially thiamine and riboflavin), carotenes, vitamin A and C, D, K.

Builds Blood
Nettle is considered a qi and blood tonic in Chinese Medicine.  This means that the herb is a rich source of vital nutrients (mentioned above) and acts in a way to replenish our body.  Healthy blood, or “xue” in Chinese Medicine, is reflected in strong energy levels, recovery time, vibrant hair and skin, good concentration, sleep and memory.

Gentle Detox.
Nettle has astringent, toning, and cleansing properties that enable the liver, kidneys, skin and lungs to all work more effectively, thus increasing natural detoxification. Nettles help to drain excessive dampness in the body and gently move stagnate fluids.

There are lots of great nettle recipes online for everything from teas to pesto. I’m sharing here my own quick and easy nettle pesto recipe, and hope you enjoy it as much as I do. One word to the wise: fresh stinging nettles will sting (hence the name) on contact with your skin, so be sure to wear gloves or use kitchen tongs to handle them as you cook.

Bon appetit!


Quick & Easy Nettle Pesto

This is an excellent recipe for spring, when nettles are abundant at local farmer's markets.

    Servings 1 cup
    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Cook Time 5 minutes


    • 1 bag nettles (about 3 cups)
    • 3-5 large cloves garlic
    • 1 handful pine nuts or walnuts (about 1/4 cup)
    • 3 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 small-med lemon, juiced (OR 2tbsp balsamic vinegar)
    •  herbs, to taste try pepper, rosemary, etc.


    1. Using tongs or gloves, blanch nettles in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Drain immediately.

    2. Place nettles, garlic, nuts, and lemon (or balsamic) in blender. While pulsing, slowly add olive oil 1 tbsp at a time.

    3. Season with herbs, to taste.

    4. Serve as you would regular pesto. It's excellent over pasta, in soups or stews, stir fries, and more!

    Recipe Notes

    In season, nettles can be found at many farmer's markets and health food or specialty stores (like Whole Foods, Ballard Market, PCC, etc.). They sting when touched, so be sure to wear gloves or use tongs to handle.

    Store leftovers in the fridge, or freeze in ice cube trays. Once frozen, remove from trays and store in an airtight, freezer safe container. Then, pull out a cube (or two... or three...) as needed, thaw, and serve as desired.

    Ashley Schiavone, EAMP/L.Ac., integrates Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Chinese herbal therapy with CranioSacral Therapy,  and NeuroEmotional Technique to address the multiple layers to health, specializing in stress management, pain, injuries and imbalances leading to anxiety, depression, insomnia and fatigue. Ashley is part of Kula Movement’s wonderful practitioner team, and sees patients Monday through Friday at Kula. To book an appointment with Ashley, visit us online or contact her at (971) 208-5184 or via Kula’s front desk at (206) 972-2999.