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Do it with nettles

They're coming through nice and tender right now, and so is sorrel - so get busy with the gloves and the scissors...

Nettle pesto


4oz pine nuts

4 oz grated parmesan cheese

2 crushed garlic cloves

Leaves and flowers from six garlic mustard plants

Enough nettle leaves to fill a 1 pint saucepan

8 fl oz extra virgin olive oil.

A handful of fresh basil leaves

Blanch nettles and garlic mustard leaves for one minute in boiling water. Drain. Transfer leaves, pine nuts, cheese and garlic cloves to liquidiser and keep adding olive oil until the mixture blends easily. The original recipe calls for about 4 oz of olive oil, but my leaves were in such a compact block, I had to use loads of oil. This made 2 jars of pesto and tastes really good.

Nettle and sorrel soup

4/5 pints rich chicken stock made by boiling a chicken carcass for 4 hours with 2 tablespoons winter savory vinegar, 2 dried bay leaves, 5 peppercorns, a sliced onion and 3 sticks sliced celery. When using stock, discard herbs and chicken bones but retain vegetables for the soup.

½ basket of nettle leaves removed from their stalks

2 large handfuls of fresh sorrel

2 peeled and sliced carrots and potatoes.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Add fresh ingredients to the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are just soft. Blend, check seasoning and serve with fresh bread topped with pesto!

Sarah Head

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