Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nettle Clover Pesto: Invigorating the blood with Wild greens of spring

This morning I whipped up a batch of springy fresh weed pesto! Almost everyone enjoys fresh basil pesto in the summer, but fewer know the joys of spring pesto made with the first pungent greens and weeds of spring. One of my personal favorites is sweet clover, Melilotus officinalis. I first learned to make clover pesto from Loba at the Anima center so many years ago, and ever since have always harvested the small, fresh, fragrant leaves and flowers of Melilotus for pesto in the spring. It makes a very strong flavored pungent pesto by itself, so I often mix it with other greens and herbs to mellow it out. Aside from its sweet vanilla scent of summer, clover is an excellent blood mover, helping to break up stagnant, pooling blood (and other fluids). Useful as a poultice for mastitis, and both internally and externally for nerve pain or weakness. I find it a wonderful spring food to get the blood and fluids moving and flowing in the body, and stimulate the digestion with its bitter aromatic flavor.

In addition to the clover, I am lucky to have a blossoming nettle patch in my garden plot. I've been harvesting the young nettle greens ( much to my delight and suprise, these very young leaves aren't causing me any headaches at all!) every week. Nettles are popping up all over the country in the warming spring, and I'm sure you can find some near you. Nettles are a wonderful mineral nutrient dense green, which builds the blood with its iron, vitamin K, calcium and more. In many parts of the world, nettles is one of the very first spring greens to pop up after a long winter without green foods, and is often touted as a spring tonic food and beverage. It supports kidney and liver health, skin, hair and nails and much much more. Suffice it to say, a winning spring green to include in your weed pesto, with a mild flavor that complements the stronger taste of clover or dandelion.
I often also add dandelion leaves to my weed pesto, but alas, my dandelions are much to small and few to get enough for pesto making, but I've been adding them to my salads on a regular basis. Dandelions are bitter and cooling and diuretic, also very mineral rich. Dandelions help the body efficiently eliminate waste products through the kidneys and bladder, and tone up the liver and our digestion by increasing bile production and bile secretion. You can make your pesto with just dandelion greens as well if other greens are not available to you.

The recipie follows:
several handfuls of spring greens. I used equal portions of fresh nettles and clover tops.
2 cloves garlic
1/2 c olive oil
juice from 1/2 lemon (more if you use dandelion or other bitter green)
1/2 c toasted walnuts
1 tsp salt

Steam the nettle greens briefly to neutralize the stinging formic acid. Strain and press well to remove as much water as possible.

Add nettles, clover, garlic, nuts, salt, lemon and olive oil to food processor. Be generous with your olive oil to make your pesto thinner. YOu may also add grated parmesean or romano cheese if you wish. I prefer my pesto without cheese.

Blend well in food processor or blender until smooth. Serve on eggs, fish, meat, in salad dressing, or as a dip for crackers or crudites, or as a sandwhich spread! Invigorate the blood and the body with the vitality of spring!
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Comfrey Cottages said...

brilliant post dear! thank you for sharing it. i really like parsley pesto better than basil pesto, and this pesto you have suggested sounds absolutely gorgeous! hugs from leslie :)

Heather Luttrell CCH said...

so happy to see you writing again Darcy! The dandelions are growing here, and my bronze fennel has very small leaves at the base. It is spring! Spent some time at the creek yesterday, standing on a rock in the middle, welcoming spring into my heart.

Anonymous said...

This pesto sounds absolutely fantastic, I'm gonna have to pass it on to my sister, she's gonna love it.

Alyss said...

I collected some nettles the other morning and cooked them down and added them to an omlette. I spent the rest of the day with stomach pain. The nettles and the eggs were the only thing I ate that day. I got them from a park, but a wild part of a park that I wouldn't think had been sprayed (though it is a possibility). Have you had experience with people not digesting nettles well or having a bad reaction to them? I am not prone to stomach problems, I can pretty much eat anything I want without any problems. I dried about half my batch to use in infusions - I've used fresh nettles I've collected for that purpose with no problem in the past - but I'm not sure I want to use these ones. Getting sick will do that to you :)

Anonymous said...

mmmm, this sounds good!
have you made this with other types of clover? we've got a little melilotus officinalis growing around here but its all in areas that are probably not safe to eat from. i'm not familiar with how the different clovers differ in taste.

and i see calendula in your medicine allies picture box and it makes me so happy! here in the north, it'll be a while until i get to see those blooms in real life but i'm looking forward to it:)

thanks for the recipe!

Julie Morgan said...

I love nettle tea. I must try this recipe though, sounds very interesting!

Aziza said...

Hi Alyss, I also got stomach pain from eating fresh nettles. I wonder if nettles have a lot of something that's hard to digest? - like iron or silica or...? My nettles were from a nature sanctuary, very clean. I've continued to eat them, but in smaller amounts and haven't had the pain again.

Darcey Blue said...

Well ladies with nettle pains, I'm not entirely sure why you would get stomach pains from them, but they are very rich in minerals, and the stems have a LOT of fiber (hence people make rope from the fibers of nettles). That said, depending on how OLD the nettles were, perhaps there was more fiber or more mineral density than you were used to? I'd say eat smaller portions, and check the age of he nettles. I've never been able to tolerate nettles, (gave me raging headaches) until I grew my own and I'm eating the very tender new growth on the plants, long before going to seed, or time to develop very fiberous stems. I was a little nervous, but the new spring growth seems to be just fine so far. I think nettles is one of those love hate things, you either love them or can't tolerate them.

Alyss said...

It's good to hear other people are having trouble with nettles. I made a quiche with nettle and comfrey leaves, kale from the store and chard/turnip/mustard greens from my garden and am having the same kind of pains. There was literally one ounce of nettles in the whole quiche! Very weird. I hope I don't have to toss the quiche.
I've not had any problems at all with nettle infusions so I've just been drying my harvest for that use.

"The mother of us all, the oldest of us all, Hard, splendid as rock, Let the beauty you love, be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth"~ Rumi ~