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Grilled Asparagus with Stinging Nettle and Hazelnut Pesto

Serves 4

This recipe is perfect for spring, when both asparagus and nettles are in season. Bill Jones recommends wearing gloves when collecting nettles; wash them in cold water, drain, then blanch them to remove their sting. You can substitute kale or spinach if nettles are unavailable. Read the story


  • Stinging Nettles 2 cups
  • Toasted Hazelnuts 1/2 cup
  • Juice and Zest of 1 lemon
  • Olive Oil 3 Tbs, more for garnish
  • Sesame Oil 1 tsp
  • Minced Garlic 1 tsp
  • Asparagus 1 lb, trimmed
  • Melted Butter 1 Tbs
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

Cook It

  1. Preheat the grill to 400˚F.
  2. Bring a pot of water to boil over high heat. Add the stinging nettles and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove the nettles from the pot and plunge into a bowl of cold water. Strain and squeeze the nettles to remove as much moisture as possible.
  3. Coarsely chop the nettles and place in the bowl of a food processer. Add the hazelnuts and pulse to form a coarse paste. Add the lemon juice, zest, olive oil, sesame oil and garlic. Process to a chunky pureé. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  4. Combine the asparagus and melted butter on a plate. Season with salt and pepper. Place the asparagus on the hot grill and char for about 5 minutes per side. Remove to a bowl and keep warm.
  5. Add a couple spoonfuls of the nettle pesto to the bowl and stir to coat the asparagus. Transfer to a serving plate and drizzle a little pesto around the plate. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

This recipe comes from TheDeerholme Vegetable Cookbook by Bill Jones (Touchwood Editions, 2015.)