A fun family activity, combine foraging for nettles (make sure you wear rubber gloves) with cooking a delicious, unusual, nutritious meal. Don't worry, though - once cooked, nettles entirely lose their sting!
150g fresh nettles
2 large cloves of garlic75g pine nuts
75g parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
200g smoked streaky bacon
300g pasta (
How many for?
1. Wearing rubber gloves, pick the nettle leaves off the stems and wash them thoroughly in a colander. The stems can be discarded.
2. Put the leaves into a large saucepan and pour a kettle of boiling water over them. Over a moderate heat, press all the leaves under the water, bringing it back up to the boil and keeping the leaves moving. This gets rid of the sting. Once boiled, drain off the liquid and squeeze the residual moisture from the now sting-less nettles.
3. Put a small, dry saucepan onto a moderate heat until the base is hot. Put your garlic cloves, still in their papery skin, into the pan and dry roast until the cloves are starting to char and turn tender. This makes the flavour gentler and
4. Remove the garlic, peel off the skin and set aside. In the same hot, dry pan, toast the pine nuts until just turning golden.
5. Put the garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice and zest into a blender and whizz until well chopped. Add the squeezed nettle leaves with a good
6. Meanwhile, grill or fry your bacon until it’s crispy and cook your pasta until just al dente. Chop the bacon into good-sized chunks and drain the pasta, retaining a cup of the liquid. Stir the pasta together with a good-sized spoonful of the pesto, adding some splashes of the cooking liquid to slacken off the mixture.
7. Serve the pasta sprinkled with the bacon and some more grated parmesan.