Nettle Pesto Pasta Recipe with Blistered Snap Peas

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Wild, fresh spring nettles are packed with nutrition and make a delicious pesto.
4-6 servings SERVINGS


  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces sugar snap peas, ends and strings removed
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Nettle Pesto

  • 5 cups firmly packed fresh nettles, rinsed
  • 1⁄3 cup chopped raw almonds
  • 1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions, being sure to keep pasta al dente. Reserve 1⁄2 cup pasta water and drain pasta.
  • To make pesto, bring a smaller pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch nettles for about 30 seconds. Remove and submerge in an ice water bath for about 1 minute. Drain thoroughly and lightly squeeze out excess water.
  • Combine nettles, almonds, olive oil, Parmesan, garlic and salt in a food processor. Pulse until smooth. If pesto is thick, add some reserved pasta water. Set aside.
  • Heat a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Add peas and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes without disturbing, until shells have turned bright green and are blackened in spots. Flip pods and cook another 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Carefully toss pasta with nettle pesto and snap peas. Top with crumbled feta. Serve hot. Find more color-filled seasonal recipes in Make Colorful, Healthy Spring Recipes.
    Reprinted with permission from Vibrant Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink.

One summer when we were kids, my sister leaped from the back patio of our cousins’ home and into a large patch of stinging nettles. I remember everyone shouting when she was already midair, “Stephy, no!” but it was too late. The memory has always served as a great reminder for me to wear gloves when handling nettles. Once blanched, nettles lose their sting and take on a mild flavor, rather like a robust, faintly nutty spinach. And they grow everywhere—they’re essentially a weed, making it easy to prepare this pesto with only some nuts and olive oil from the cupboard and a mess of nettles plucked from the backyard or a nearby park. To make this pasta gluten-free, try brown rice spaghetti noodles, which are my favorite.

Nettle Pesto Pasta Recipe with Blistered Snap Peas

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