Wild Salmon with Nettle Pesto

Wild Salmon with Nettle Pesto


recipe created by Nelly Hand, originally published in Honest Magazine

In May when the salmon run starts, my favorite wild greens reach their way up through patches of snow out on the Copper River Delta. In between fishing openers and shipping boxes of fresh fish out of at the airport, I make the drive out to the nettle patch to fill baskets of these first spring greens. I love their earthy flavor and that time being closer to the ground before Alaska has fully accelerated into summer and my time shifts to being on the water for weeks at a time.

Forage wild nettles with respect and care, being aware of correctly identifying before you take. Wear gloves and watch out for the sting. The flavor is worth the forage. 



2 cups of wild nettles 

2 cloves of garlic

1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or preserved lemon peel 

1/4 cup grated parmesan 

1/4 cup walnuts 

1/4 cup olive oil 

Salt & Pepper to taste 


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the nettles and softly boil for 3-5 minutes to remove the sting. Drain in a colander, gently squeezing out excess water. Let cool.

Place the cooled nettles, garlic, preserved lemon peel or lemon juice, parmesan, walnuts and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Use short pulses to begin blending. After a few pulses, pour in the olive oil while blending. Stop to taste, adjusting ingredients and adding more as necessary and being careful not to over blend.

Slather onto your fish and grill. Store any remainder in the fridge and enjoy with toast or pasta! 


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