I don't tend to post too many recipes on this blog for an assortment of reasons, the main one being that I am a slacker - writing up a recipe is hard for a lazybones like me. It certainly doesn't help that I'm somewhat of a lax cook as well; I almost never measure ingredients, and I add and tweak right up until the food hits the plate. I throw in odd bits of this and that as the spirit moves me, and therefore, A) never make anything exactly the same way twice (which cuts both ways, I assure you) and B) have a hard time putting my ingredients and methods into words that make sense.
But I had to post these recipes because they are not only earth-muffiny as all get out (thumbs up!), but are also great tasting and relatively easy to make. Let's cook with nettles!
My first go with harvesting and cooking nettles had me making a fresh nettle pesto. The recipe that I used was from Fat of the Land. The original recipe can be viewed here. The following recipe is my twist on the FOTL recipe.
Stinging Nettle Pesto
-2 cups (cooked) blanched and drained stinging nettles, squeezed-dry and chopped well (about 6 cups raw)
-1/2 cup +/- of Parmesan cheese
-1/2 cup raw, unsalted walnuts
-5 or 6 large garlic cloves, peeled
-1/2 cup +/- olive oil (I usually go for more. Nothing worse than a pasty dry pesto!)
-Fresh squeezed juice from 1 lemon (2 or 3 tbsps worth, I'd guesstimate)
-Salt & Pepper to taste
Just like any other pesto, you basically just pop everything into the food processor and whiz it up to your preferred consistency, adding additional oil and seasonings as you deem appropriate. (If you didn't take to heart my earlier disclaimer about not being a recipe writer, consider the proceeding recipe "Exhibit A". I hope that you'll try it anyway!)
Our second night of cooking with nettles had them in a less highlighted role, as the "spinach" in my homemade egg noodles. If you have a homemade pasta recipe that you like, simply add about 1/4 cup of blanched, squeezed dry, finely chopped nettles to your dough during the initial kneading and mix through well. Boom. That's it. If you're still game to try one of my recipes, well here you go:
Nettle Egg Noodles
-3 cups flour (plus extra for rolling out)
-2 whole eggs
-4 egg yolks
-2 tsps salt
-2-3 tbsps water
-1/4 cup blanched, well drained, chopped stinging nettles
Start with your flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle for your eggs & yolks. Gentle scramble the eggs with a fork, slowly beginning to incorporate the flour/salt mixture. Once the eggs and dry ingredients are well mixed, begin adding water in small increments, kneading and squeezing the dough together after each addition. Continue adding water as needed to the dough to reach your desired consistency. Now it's time to fold in the nettles. Knead them into the dough well, until the are mixed evenly throughout. Allow the dough to rest for 10 or 15 minutes before rolling out.
If you're lucky, you have an eager helper, just waiting to make a mess of your kitchen for you. Mine's named Scarlet.
This represents about 1/2 of the noodles produced. The rest went into our chicken soup.
Mmm, Mmm, Good!
The girls gobbled this up, not in spite of the nettles, but rather (at least in part) because of the nettles. They thought that it was pretty cool to eat something so "scary". Having them help with the preparation always demystifies new foods a little too. They always have seconds when they're the sous chef. ;)
They weren't the only ones pleased with these recipes. In fact, I want to get back out there and pick some more nettles while the getting is still good. I want to make some nettle tea. Nettles are purported to have numerous health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties and are said to also be helpful in the relief of symptoms of osteoarthritis. They also pack a ton of vitamins A & C, and according to various sources, when consumed as a whole (not in tea form), contain anywhere from 10-40% protein, the second highest plant source, next to hemp.
So this is me, encouraging you to expand your food horizons. Give wild food a try! The satisfaction of foraging your own is parallel to that of growing your own, without having to hoe a single row or live in fear of locusts or late blight. Mother Nature sweats the details, all you have to do is get out there and pick. ;)