Springtime Pesto {Nettles + Ramps O’ My}

Copy of Tempeh Bacon Lettuce & Tomato Sammies

Just two weeks ago I turned 29. That felt a little weird to type or even think about. It’s odd to think I was just 18 when I started this blog. Where in the HECK did the time go? I was just a freshman in college and now I’m married thinking about kids. That provides a whole lot of perspective. I look at my blog and see how my taste in food has evolved over the years. I mean just by looking at the title of this post you can see how much I’ve decided to dip my toes into the ever expanding world of food. Nettles? Ramps? If you asked me 10 years ago what those things were I would have probably shrugged and not even know where to get them.

In true Taurus foodie fashion I welcomed my day of birth with deliciousness. An almond milk latte, avocado toast (not made by me) for brunch and a broccoli rabe pasta dish  with a luscious creamy cheesy sauce garnished with slivered almonds (yea…talk about decadent af), an entire bottle of Valpolicella for dinner and a strawberry tart made by my fave french bakery for singing Happy Birthday. Simple elegance.

I decided that this year is all about simplicity, presence, playfulness and gratitude. My kitchen intentions are to continue to provide simple healthy seasonal eats as often as possible. I working out of this culinary rut, I promise. I don’t know how many freakin’ pesto recipes I have put on my blog but this one is different!!! Trust!!

Have you ever seen a nettle? Or a ramp?


Stinging Nettles (copyright Uwe H. Friese, Bremerhaven 2003)

Nettles or stinging nettles are a wild edible plant that has small sharp hairs that can actually irritate the skin. The weird part is even with that small inconvenience, it is nutrient-rich, a natural antihistamine (buh bye seasonal allergies), helps control blood sugar and a few other things (check it out here).


Wild Leeks aka Ramps (copyright dano272)

Ramps are the hot thang right now and to be honest I had NO idea what they were until last year. These wild, foraged leeks are only in season for a short period of time and if you’re not shopping at the farmer’s market can run up your grocery bill. The taste is similar to a leek that had a baby with garlic. Using it up in a pesto gives you an earthy, creamy, garlicky flavor without it being overwhelmingly garlicky.

Springtime Pesto {Nettles + Ramps O’ My}

Total time: 10 minutes (a little more if you decide to put this on pasta…so include that too if you want a more accurate time estimate)


What you need:
  • I bunch stinging nettles from your local farmer’s market (wear gloves to avoid irritation)
  • 1 bunch of ramps, roots removed and chopped roughly
  • 1 bunch spring garlic, roots removed, chopped roughly
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese or romano or pecorino cheese or more if you like it cheesy
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (feel free to use pumpkin seeds, pine nuts or even cashews)
  • juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, if you like it with a kick add more
  • extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil, you will eye ball until pesto is the consistency you like
  • Salt, pepper to taste
How you make it:
  1. Bring a pot of water to a nice rolling boil and salt it generously. In the meantime prepare a large bowl with cool water and about 10 ice cubes.
  2. Take your stinging nettles and chop off the stems, leaving the leaves ready to go for its little bath. Place in boiling water for about 2 minutes. Remove from water and place in its ice bath for 1 minute. Dry thoroughly and set aside for pesto making.
  3. In your food processor or blender (or if you’re going old school, mortar and pestle), add basil (yes, you can use the stems and everything), spring garlic, ramps and nettles. Pulse until slightly broken down.
  4. Add nuts, cheese, red pepper flakes if you desire. Pulse.
  5. Slowly add in your oil of choice while pulsing/blending. Keep going if you prefer a smoother texture or pulse until nice and chunky.
  6. Remove from blender/processor/mortar & pestle, add lemon juice and zest and season generously with salt and pepper.
  7. Now tell me that’s not delish as all heck?!!

NOTE: If you’re going to store this for later, put in an air tight container in the fridge. Squeeze more lemon juice on top to keep it nice and fresh.

NOTE PART 2: If serving with pasta, save some of your pasta water to help the pesto stick to your pasta. My new fave pasta: Banza & Ancient Harvest Red Lentil. Both are packed with protein and paired with this springy nutrient dense pasta, you have a balanced meal! Just add some cheese if you dig 😉


Served with Banza spaghetti, cherry tomatoes and some sheeps milk Ricotta salata. So. GOOD! 


Peace, love and no beef 😉



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