This spring I’ve happened on a seasonal pairing that will be a regular part of the menu from now on: stinging nettles and morels. In particular, the combo involves Stinging Nettle Pesto with sauteed morels. You might wonder whether these two supremely earthy tastes would cancel each other out. To the contrary, they complement each other, one cool and woodsy with a sharp bite; the other rich and evocative of the ground beneath our feet.
We first tried the pairing as a crostini. Marty surprised me with it one evening while I was busy making a Pinot Noir reduction. She lightly toasted sliced baguette, spread on ricotta followed by the nettle pesto, and finished the crostini with sauteed morels. We knew she was onto something with the first bite. It sounds so simple, yes, and you can almost imagine the flavors if you’ve eaten these foods before. But the pairing is more than the sum of its parts.
The next try was a pizza with the pesto and morels, plus mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and a sprinkling of garden greens. While Marty is known for making some mean pizza, this was off the hook.
Most of you will have to wait until next year to give it a shot. Stinging nettles are flowering across much of their range and morels are dust nearly everywhere except the higher elevations of the Northwest. I’m hoping I might get one more chance when I venture into the mountains in late June.