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Pistachio Nettle Pesto with Lemon and Fennel

Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian
Keyword pesto
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 31 minutes
Servings 28 ounces


  • 3 ounces nettle leaves (8 cups in volume)
  • 6 ounces coarsely chopped fennel fronds and stems (3 cups in volume)
  • 2 ounces toasted chopped walnuts (about 1/3 cup in volume)
  • 3 ounces shelled pistachios (3/4 cup in volume)
  • 1 1/2 ounces coarsely chopped basil (about 4 cups in volume)
  • 1 ounce grated parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup in volume)
  • finely grated zest of 2 large or 3 small organic lemons
  • 1 1/2 ounces garlic cloves, coarsely chopped (about 10 to 12 individual cloves)
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 1/4 cup for capping
  • 4 8-ounce glass jars


  1. Use gloves whenever touching nettle leaves before they're cooked. Rinse nettle leaves thoroughly under cold water to get rid of any insects, using gloves. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add a couple tablespoons of salt. Add the nettle to the boiling water and stir to ensure the leaves are covered in the water. Boil for 1 minute, then drain and rinse with cold water.

  2. Grab a handful of the nettle leaves and squeeze them over a bowl to catch excess water. Repeat with all the cooked nettle to press out as much water out as you can. Discard the water, keeping the cooked nettle leaves.

  3. Working in 2 batches with half of the ingredients, pulse all the ingredients except the olive oil inside the bowl of a food processor until coarsely chopped, 6 to 8 times. Then with processor running, add olive oil in a thin steady stream until smooth and combined. Distribute the pesto between jars, then repeat with the remaining half of the ingredients and distribute that between the jars, as well.

  4. Pour a tablespoon of olive oil on top of each of the pesto jars and then seal them with their lids. Use a piece of masking tape and a pen to label the lid with the current date, then place the jars upright in the freezer.

  5. To thaw, place the jar in the refrigerator overnight.