Stinging nettle isn't a nuisance at all when it comes to your allergies: nettles are thought to be anti-inflammatory, good for seasonal allergy symptoms, and calming to the nervous system. They're also high in vitamins A, C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium.
Nettles can be picked in the wild all over Vancouver Island, where I live, and spring is a great time to find them in the woods. Be sure to wear gloves, though: nettles are otherwise known as stinging nettles, and will give you a painful rash if they contact your skin.
Luckily the stinging quality goes away when nettles are cooked or dried.
I'm a big fan of nettle tea, but have just discovered a whole new world of cooked nettles. My favorite recipe so far is this pesto from Elana's Pantry. Replacing the basil with nettles ups the nutritional quality of the pesto, and the taste is still totally amazing!
- 2 cups stinging nettles leaves, packed
- 1 cup basil leaves, packed
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup walnuts or pine nuts
- Place nettles leaves, basil, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic in a food processor
- Pulse ingredients until almost smooth
- Serve on cucumbers, yellow peppers, or crackers, or toss with gluten-free pasta.