Grasp the nettle

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
Attrib. to Goethe 

“Tender-handed stroke a nettle, And it stings you, for your pains:
Grasp it like a man of mettle, And it soft as silk remains.”
Aaron Hill

A year has passed since I said goodbye to Northstar, and started out on something new, and it’s time to ring the changes again.
Spring is the time for new life and new beginnings – so much more hopeful than dreary and comfortless January. It’s also the time to get outside and start foraging. I’m a little late to the season, but not as late as last year, so this weekend I managed to catch the end of the new crop of spring nettles.
Armed with two freezer bags – one to wrap round my hand to protect it, and one to deposit nettle leaves into – I braved the looks of concern from people out walking their dogs on Tooting Common, and dived into the masses of nettles lining the pathways and fields behind where I live.
I took my filled bag with me to a friend’s house for a catch up over a glass of wine, and got similar looks of concern.
‘What are you going to do with nettles?’
Good question. I made nettle pesto. It was a bit of an experiment, but I’m pleased to report that it worked excellently.


Here’s my recipe:
Nettle pesto
A freezer bag of spring nettle leaves from the tips of the plant, wilted in boiling water to take away the sting, or any other strong tasting leaf – rocket, basil…
A handful of seeds, toasted – I used pumpkin and sunflower seeds because they’re cheap
A lump of cheese – I used feta, but any flavoursome cheese would work.
A big slop of olive oil
Chop and bash everything together as finely as you’d like your pesto to be, or stick it all in a blender. Add as much oil as you need to make it the consistency you want and mix it all together. Decant it into a clean jar and use within a few days, or freeze it.
And while we’re talking about boldly grasping nettles and making them into something else…
I’m now working as a freelancer full-time – one of the most terrifying, exhilarating, risky, joyful, freedom-giving, enervating decisions I have ever made.
Bring it.

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