Nettle Pasta Recipe

Nettles in a pasta with feta, sesame, almonds, and onion sprouts & a few pics from the Golden Gate bridge birthday fireworks.

Nettle Pasta

It has been a good week. Aside from the paper cuts. Things related to this little monster are coming together, and unless I've totally blown it, packages should start going out as planned in the coming weeks. There might even be a preview ready in the next few days. Maybe! In the meantime, there are a couple things I'm excited to share. First, a nettle pasta recipe I've been in love with lately. And then, a few snapshots from a walk I took to the Golden Gate bridge the night of its 75th birthday celebration.

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The pasta is a breeze. For those of you who've never cooked with nettles (I suspect this might be a good number of you), buy some the next time you come across them. They're easier to deal with than you think. Here I quickly blanch them straight from the bag they came in, in the same water I cook the pasta. One pot, no stings. I add toasted almonds for crunch, feta because its tangy creaminess plays nice with the nettles, and onion sprouts. Bit of garlic.

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I really should have packed the leftovers (and more layers!) for our expedition to the bridge, but we went on a bit of a whim, and I didn't think it through entirely. There was a news report predicting half a million people would attend the celebration, they were closing the span to all traffic for an hour, and it seemed worth checking out. So we walked out the front door around 6pm, and, over the next few hours, made our way to the ridge just to the right of the south tower.

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There were a lot of people, and it was a beautiful San Francisco evening, and thankfully there was plenty of space from everyone. People were spread out for miles along the hills and shoreline. It was one of those things that turned San Francisco into something its typically not - a city where people are out and about late at night, bustling to get here or there. Because of the lack of parking (and buses and taxis), it felt like everyone walked in. Which meant they also walked out. Anyway, it was nice in a lot of ways. And it was a nice reminder that sometimes a really long walk, fireworks or not, is a perfect way to spend a night out. xo -h

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Nettle Pasta

It's quite easy to find nettles in the markets for most of the year here. But don't worry if you can't get a hold of them, you can substitute kale or spinach, no problem.

6 - 8 ounces stinging nettles*
8 ounces small dried pasta (orecchiette, orzo, etc)
extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
a big handful of toasted almond slices
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
a handful of onion sprouts
feta cheese, crumbled - as much or as little as you like
fine grain sea salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt well, as you would for pasta water, and add the nettles straight from the bag so as not to get stung (or use gloves to handle them). Boil until the nettles wilt, just 20 seconds or so, then use a slotted spoon to remove the nettles from the pot. Run under cold water, drain well, then strip the leaves from any big stems. Chop the leaves into a paste.

In the meantime, bring the nettle water back to a boil, add the pasta, and boil until just tender. Reserve a cup of the nettle water, and drain the pasta.

Place the pasta pot back on the burner over medium-high heat, adding 1/2 cup / 120 ml of the reserved pasta water, a splash of olive oil, and the chopped garlic. Bring to a simmer, the add the pasta and chopped nettles. Add more pasta water if needed. Stir well, and add most of the almonds and sesame seeds. Taste and add more salt if needed. Remove from heat and stir in most of the onion sprouts before turning out into a bowl. Serve family-style topped with feta, the remaining almonds, sesame seeds, and sprouts, drizzled with olive oil.

Serves 4.

*Use gloves when handling raw stinging nettles. A quick blanch in boiling water will neutralize their stinging power.

Prep time: 5 minutes - Cook time: 15 minutes

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I have really liked all the recipes I have tried. I also bought your cookbooks as I felt guilty using so many GREAT free recipes. However, I live in southern Utah & cannot find several of the ingredients that you use! I usually can substitute in many recipes & they turn out fine. To sort of steal a line from “Pirates of the Caribbean” “A recipe (pirate code) is just a guideline” Thanks for all the great ideas!

HS: Happy to hear it Mary.


Ohhhh…this was yummy! We have nettle all around the fields and old barn, so easy pickings here (Catskills NY).
We used Linguine Fini and fresh parm (that’s all we had in the house) and still very delicious. We boiled them a bit longer than the 20 secs to make them less bitter, as this batch was more bitter than usual. The sesame and almonds are just perfect in this recipe. Thanks! We will be making this dish again.


Great simple recipe. And so so pretty. We do a lot of foraging in our family as we have a verdant forest and river nearby for nettles, wild garlic, elderflowers/berries and brambles. I recently posted what I called a Forager’s Fritter recipe using nettles and wild garlic. We also use foraged samphire, which is a shoreline plant that looks like very thin asparagus, also sharing its delicate flavour. I’ve got a simple samphire, smoked tofu, kale and steamfried egg thing on the blog too. Lots of free stuff out there that is fun to pick, prepare and eat. I would recommend reading a good wild plants book and maybe going with a knowledgeable person first; essential for mushrooming


Nettles! The second time I’ve seen them mentioned in a very short space of time. The other place was in a fantastic new Aussie book that I think you’d love, Heidi: “Mr Wilkinson’s Favourite Vegetables: A Cookbook to Celebrate the Seasons”. For a nanosecond I thought about sowing some nettles in my garden … but I think I’ll go foraging instead. Thanks for the inspiration!

Mrs Sparkles

I wish my farmers market had nettles. Good to know that kale can be used in place of the nettles.


If you decide to pick your own nettles be sure to pick the “young” leaves (the tiny new ones). Apparently they have more of the good stuff in them than the older ones. If you cut nettles down they will just grow back, so no fear. Also, the sting is not as bad as it sounds and usually goes away after 20 minutes. If this is uncomfortable, just rub some fresh dirt (grass and all) on it as this kills the sting( which by the way increases circulation and is sometimes even recommended by doctors). Nettles have amazing uses. Also leave some nettles for the butterflies – they lay their eggs on the leaves and use them to munch on before they become butterflies!


This is supposed to be for the nettles recipe. Just came back from a lovely hike in the Jura and managed to find some nice, young, fairly good looking nettles. My question is can I keep them in a plastic bag in the fridge for a couple of days, or should I blanch them this evening and then save for my pasta dish tomorrow??? Quick answer can be “Cook today! or Save for tomorrow!”


I can’t seem to post this on the rhubarb syrup recipe for some reason so I’m posting here instead. There are loads of recipes for egg creams on the internet, but I haven’t really been using one. Instead, I’ve been mimicking the technique we saw at the restaurant which was essentially pour syrup in the bottom of a glass, add milk and then stir vigorously while filling glass with seltzer. We were also advised to drink quickly which never seems to be a problem! I’ve added a link for a video of them making the egg cream if you are interested.

HS: Thanks Kami! Great video.


I had a summer job as a gardener when I was in high school. I got the worst reactions from stinging nettles. I never thought of eating them! I think I am too scared …

Dawn @cuterthangluten

Thank you so much for the beautiful post. One of my favorite places in the world is Crissy Field and the Golden Gate Bridge. I was so sad that we weren’t able to be there for the anniversary but your photos made me feel like I was there.
I think you just got me over my fear of cooking with nettles, thanks again.

tina jeffers

BUYING nettles…. I never heard of that!!!! You mean, people are actually gullible enough to BUY the stuff???? That is incredible! Mother Nature is still providing an abundance of this plant all over this world. You can eat it as spinach, as a soup, you can even use the fiber of this plant to weave fabric. It makes a delicious antioxidant tea, and it mixes well with a horsetails and a bit of mint. i drink it every day, I am 83 years old and of good health. My grandmother and greatgrandmother lived happily into the mid 90th drinking nettle tea with a bit of honey every day. It costs nothing to collect and tastes better then most teas. God in heaven if it would not have been for nettles growing wild, also mushrooms, berries and acorn, we would have died of hunger in Germany during WW2.


Thank you so much for posting this! Many years ago while visiting Sicily a friend and I walked into a tiny restaurant and were served a delicious pasta dish that the waiter described as made with something “that hurts if you touch it”. It took days to figure out it was nettles! I’ll definitely have to try making this one.


For the folks in the above comments wondering if nettles are a seasonal thing & which leaves to use, it’s good practice to pick plants when they’re young – before they get terribly thick in the stem – hence why it’s a seasonal thing in many areas. As far as leaves to use, I tend to avoid any of the biggest bottom leaves once the plants have grown a bit – go for the top three to five whorls of leaves:)

HS: Thanks for the insight Emma 🙂


I take capsules of dried nettles during hay fever season; they’re an effective antihistamine. I wonder if cooking with nettles provides antihistamine relief? By the way, if you’re picking nettles and get stung, squeeze some of the “milk” from the stem onto the stings — it will stop the sting (I think this is the plant’s natural antihistimine going to work.) I learned this from a naturalist at Ano Nuevo State Park.


How beautiful! I love that entire area of the country, need to plan a visit soon!
I have never tried nettles, but I will definitely look for them when our Farmer’s Market opens in a week or so…

Rocky Mountain Woman

This pasta looks delicious. I very much like your recipe with the greens/sprouts and seeds. Beautiful picutures of San Francisco.


I had not thought to use Nettle before: but nettle pasta looks interesting.

Ivona Poyntz

I’m in England and nettles grow everywhere. Does anyone know which leaves to pick and would dead nettles (non stinging kind) do as well? I’ve always wanted to try them but have always been afraid I would get stung when I ate them!!


I’ll try this! NO problem at all finding nettles.. our hillside is covered in them at this time of year… It’ll be good to get my own back and actually eat some of them.. usually they’re just stinging me!

Janette Kidd

Nettles are lovely … think of them like spinach, they can be easily substituted in most spinach recipes. The battle will be finding them as they are not a common site in most green grocers!


I am so dubious about nettles, I have to be honest…and I would love to see my husband’s face if I handed him a plate of nettles. But I may try it with spinach!
I LOVE the GGB photos. We live on the Peninsula and decided not to make the effort to come in for the fireworks but I am sad about it. Your photos are amazing, I love the one of you as well!!

Cathryn Ramsden

Love! the photos – especially the B&W bridge shots. Our CSA just started offering nettles – can’t wait to try this pasta recipe. + Take a look at the 4th sentence first paragraph (have be). Looking forward to 6/13 – or sooner. 🙂

HS: Thanks Marissa – nothing like a typo in the lead paragraph 😉

Marissa | Pinch and Swirl

Totally loved your pictures. Do you mind saving some of them. I am totally fond of your snaps.
Hopefully i will try that yummy recipe of yours.


i know what you mean. we were out of town that weekend (hiking the lost coast!) but last weekend we basically walked around the entire city (or bussed it). it was a really fun day.

heather @ chiknpastry

I’ve never seen nettles at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market. I wonder if people forage for them. I don’t know what they look like growing. But this recipe sounds good.

Sharyn Dimmick

Fireworks: check
Long walk: check
Onion sprouts: ???! Where does one find these? I’m already educating folks at the market about green garlic~is an onion sprout a small leek? Hmmm. You’ve always got something I’m curious about and the payoff is always amazing!


cool. i’ve never used nettles before. thanks for the warning.


Anyone recognize the pan shown in the picture? I love it. Heidi you have an amazing sense of style.

HS: Hi B.J. Thank you! I have a few Irish enameled cast iron pans – and that is one of them. xo


Tried it with spinach yesterday with the addition of two chopped green onions in the boiling water… yummy!!!


Hmm still a bit unsure about cooking nettles – however I do have some nettle tea.


This is an excellent recipe Heidi,
it is a common weed our here ,the sting is real irritant though.

ashish naithani

Thanks for sharing your 75th anniversary pics! I lovelovelove that last shot! I was out of town Memorial Day weekend and so sad to miss the big, glorious fireworks show. The pasta looks fantastic. I am definitely going to pick up some nettles at the farmers market this weekend.


I love the photos of the bridge. I am in the bay area and I wish I was there!


Great post- thanks for sharing. 🙂

healthy easy recipes

My 10 year old loves nettles (thanks Juiliana’s) and lemon verbena so we will have to try both recipes. Can’t wait for summer and more time to cook!


Nettles grow proliferously in most places. A super nutritious and delicious weed. 🙂 If you can’t find them at your local farmer’s market, go foraging! We eat them often.

xoxo Nik – loved the ballet recital pics of the girls.


Thanks for the great recipe, and the wonderful photos. Our cousins from San Francisco just left here (Detroit), it was such a good visit. We don’t get out to San Francisco so your photos were especially nice to see! Just received your book in the mail: Super Natural Everyday, and it’s a regular part of my menu planning.

Suzanne Rodgers

Nettels are like weed in Europe. I am in Bulgaria right now and I can can see them everywhere in the countryside. I also grow up eating them, they are not my favorite by far.


You inspire me Heidi. I got used to the “same old- same old” but love the newness of your ideas. Keep on !

nancy f.

You inspire me Heidi. I got used to the “same old- same old” but love the newness of your ideas. Keep on !

nancy f.

Funny = “bag they come in”. These are common “weeds” in our woods here and any local would joke at seeing them for sale in the store. I’ve been eating lots of weeds for years. These are a good replacement for any cooked spinach recipe. Although my favorite green and common weed is Lamb’s Quarter.

Laura S

Hi Heidi! You mention a lot that you pack your food when you travel. I was wondering, how do you keep your food cold on a plane? We are going to London and it is a 9 hour flight so to maintain at a safe temperature, I would have to take ice packs but I am not sure ice packs are allowed. Or, are they? Thank you in advance!

Paty Shaulis

I have used dried nettles for years in capsule form to decrease environmental allergic symptoms,(it worked for me) but I have never been able to locate fresh nettles. I would love to try this recipe. It sounds delicious!


Kudos Heidi for spreading the word about stinging nettles. I have been fascinated with them since 1999 when I reached out to touch the fuzzy texture of a leaf in Switzerland, and – got stung!
I drink nettle tea all the time, but I cannot for the life of me find stinging nettles for sale anywhere! Following your lead, I have even begun visiting urban farmer’s markets (instead of the occasional country market) in Toronto, but so far I have come up empty-handed. Are stinging nettles seasonal, of the same ilk as ramps and fiddleheads? If so, I may have missed them again this year.
I am also looking for a seed source, so perhaps I can grow my own. Wish me luck!

Primordial Soup

Now kale I can find! This looks quite wonderful, but I fear nettles perhaps more than an adult should. It’s that word “stinging”. Will definitely try this, perhaps with onions because I can’t find onion sprouts…

Melody Scott

I don’t think I’ve ever seen nettles for sale–and I also live in the bay area, home of produce galore! Maybe I need to get my forage on so I can try this one out. 🙂


That pasta looks divine. So fresh and full of flavor. Thanks for the recipe!


Stinging nettles and paper cuts. Dangerous work! You have made me want to try them–the nettles that is. I’ve already had the other. 🙂


As my neighbour says, nettles have a sting because they possess a great value (sounds a little more elegant in Italian). My garden in the Italian alps produces more nettles than anything else, so thanks for the recipe. It will be nice to enjoy them on a plate rather than swearing at them!


Amazing! I just remember getting stung by Nettles as a kid, so i’d have to get real brave on this one!! : )

Summer // House&Hold

Amazing! I just remember getting stung by Nettles as a kid, so i’d have to get real brave on this one!! : )

Summer // House&Hold

Wow, what great pictures! Nettles are so humble and tasty, this sounds like a great way to use them – thank you! (If you are in the Irvine, CA area, the UCI Farmers Market sells nettles at Farmer John’s booth – farthest back, right corner.)

Jill @ 42potatoes

I love the idea of nettles in pasta, and the feta sounds like a perfect compliment!


I also live in SF. Could you tell me where you found the nettles? Thank you!


One pot, no stings – sounds like the perfect nettle dish to me! Haven’t found nettles yet at the nyc greenmarkets but I’ll continue to keep an eye out for them – if I find ’em, this’ll be the one!


Please, tell me what is nettle pasta.
i couln”t find the definition in internet!
thank you from brazil, heidi!


I have always been skittish about trying stinging nettles. I thought, why would anyone want to eat a stinging weed? Thank you Heidi, for opening my eyes!


My husband is from Germany and grew up on a farm. They would mix the nettles in with mashed potatoes. He said they are deliciois that way. I live in the desert in NM and I am unable to get nettles anywhere. I remember they grew all over the Presidio when I lived there. What beautiful pictures you toom. I really miss living in San Francisco!


Thanks for the bridge photos. I wondered on a previous trip if it was just my perception that SF rolls its sidewalks up at night (meaning folks don’t get out and about after dark) or if I was just in the wrong part of town to see it. Thanks for the confirmation. As a tourist with my husband, I spent the most lovely 60th birthday exploring, walking and eating my way across SF one week before the bridge 75th anniversary – fortunately, we were there to see the Bay to Breakers participants in all their glory! Good fun! Good vibe and great food, as always!
Went to Thom. E. Cara on your recommendation and enjoyed meeting the owner – who knew not who you are – I informed him…he hoped he’d been nice to you! Apparently so, or you wouldn’t have recommended his shop!

Susan Stone

I am prone to let something grow in my garden when they look interesting – and last year it was a huge bush of stinging nettle. I did not know what it was and quickly discovered it’s properties when I touched it. Only learned what it was and it’s nutritional value this year.
Thanks for sharing this pasta recipe, looks so good and I will hope my nettle comes back and give it a try,


Nettles grow wild in WI too! This is GREAT recipe! I do nettle pesto, keeps and freezes well. Wonderful on pasta and with goat cheese and bread, yummy!!!


We don’t have any nettles where I live. Any suggestions for a substitute? Looks absolutely delish!!!


Nettles grow wild here on Hat Island, WA..never have seen a nettle pasta, we chop them down… they take over the berries and etc……..


What lovely photographs! Thank you for another wonderful recipe (and encouragement!) – I can’t wait to try to cook with nettles, I’m a newbie!


I wish my kitchen had the lighting that yours does! Beautiful photos as always.


Another fantastic recipe love nettles they grow everywhere here In the UK! Great to see you in my monthly food magazine Delicious. Will be doing the rice and greens recipe tonight!


This is the second or third nettles recipe I’ve seen this spring – but have not been able to find them at the market here in Brooklyn. Maybe Union Square?


that looks so delicious! rustic and gorgeous! and your photography is just stunning! thanks for sharing!

Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy

So excited to try yet another delicious recipe of yours. *What’s the white pot/serving dish that you’ve pictured LC?


My husband is from Hungary and loves nettles. But we tried nettle tea once and he really didn’t like it! Will have to try this pasta recipe! YUM!

Cheri @ The Watering Mouth

So excited to try yet another delicious recipe of yours. *What’s the white pot/serving dish that you’ve pictured LC?


Thanks for the inspiration to give nettle a chance. I think I’m just attracted to the name of it. Sounds like something my grandma would have fixed on the farm. Sigh.


Those photos of the bridge and fireworks are spectacular. I’ve never had nettles – what do they taste like?


Lovely recipe and lovely Golden Gate photos!

Tracy A.

This is the first time I’ve heard of nettles. Can’t wait to try them!

Julia {The Roasted Root}

Yum! Almond, Sesame, Feta…I’m in! Excited to try this. You take such beautiful photos. I have your cookbook sitting on my kitchen counter. 1. because i love all the recipes inside. 2. it’s so pretty, when guests are over they can’t help but open it!


I’m still yet to come across nettles in my shopping expeditions, but most definitely want to try them if I ever do! That’s a gorgeous looking pasta.

leaf (the indolent cook)

When I worked in Switzerland we would often have to avoid the stinging nettles while we collected our plant samples. I remember my boss mentioning that his mother made a nettle soup and I couldn’t believe it!! But here it is again in food! And I’m sure it’s delicious!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

oooh, I’ve never heard of nettle- good to know! I’d love to try this!

Simply Life

I guess I didn’t know much about nettles before reading this post. I’m intrigued.
Gorgeous, gorgeous pictures!

Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama}

I guess I didn’t know much about nettles before reading this post. I’m intrigued.
Gorgeous, gorgeous pictures!

Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama}

This pasta looks wonderful, I love the combination of the peppery nettles with the smooth feta. Delicious. And your photos have made me so excited for our trip to San Fran in the summer!


I remember that once in Italy I tasted a nettles frittata and it was delicious.
I would really like to try this pasta but the question is where in the world am I going to find nettle in NYC. Guess that I’ll have to plan a hiking trip and find it in NYC’s outskirts…

HS: Mike, I bet you can get them at any reasonably-sized Farmers’ market there. Happy hunting.

Mike @TheIronYou

What a lovely evening and recepie! Have a wondeful day!


Nettles have so many health benefits and are so good for you! I need to pick some up and make this recipe.
And I love that picture of you!

Averie @ Averie Cooks

I’ve never cooked with nettles either! What an intriguing idea. I love the flavours in your pasta dish. Also long evening walks are the best in summer 🙂


I would never have thought of the sesame seed addition! Looks fabulous. Stinging nettles always remind me of my grandparent’s place out in Minnesota. My grandmother would harvest them wild and throw them into soups and pickle the stems.

Susan Sharp

This looks fantastic. I will try! We almost always order pizza with nettles at a local pizza place (Ragazza, you must know it!). Delicious! The fireworks were rattling our windows like a quake that night. Your photos of the event are beautiful!

HS: Oh, I know it! That is one of my favorite pizzas.

Tiffanie Turner

Hi, there’s no nettles here in Beijing, China. But I’m suspecting that it could be replaced with “amaranth”. It’s really difficult to cook “organic” here in China but come check out what’s cooking here in this part of the world!

Mandy L@lady and pups

hello heidi – i’ve never cooked with nettle, nor recognized them at markets. as a matter of fact i’ve had very little to do with them so far, other than occasional herbal teas. one memorable use of nettle i’ve encountered is nettle-flavored (white) chocolate that i found in france which i rather enjoyed.
anyhow, the dish looks and sounds great! hope i’ll have a chance to get my hands on some! and good luck with the quitokeeto project, really excited about it! x


The GGB pictures – those fireworks! I too love those rare nights when SF comes alive. I recently made your summer pasta from Super Natural Every Day using nettles instead of zucchini, since we don’t have zucchini yet – I found the parmesan to be really good with them. Not as creamy-delicious as the feta you use here probably is though- this sounds wonderful. Can’t wait to try it.


I love nettles. I pick them out and about and use them for soup. I also blanch and freeze them, to be used in green smoothies. Love the taste of them!


I absolutely LOVE nettles! I usually toss them in olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper, and then use them as a topping for pizza. Great idea to add them into pasta, will be doing this soon!

Anjali @ The Picky Eater

Sounds great Heidi, nettles grow wild all around my place. I might put on some gloves to pick some and make this!


Love this! Always looking for new ways to use nettles and their nutrition powerhouse!


I have always been too scared of stinging nettles to buy them (let alone pick my own, as it’s apparently easy to do around Seattle). But I’ve had enough great preparations of them lately that I am just going to have to get over it. I like the idea of dumping them straight from the bag into the pot!


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