About stinging nettles!

Locals will be familiar with this plant, as the shade-loving enemy of bare legs. The first thing to know is that you do not want to touch these leaves with your bare hands! They will leave a minor stinging sensation that goes away after a few minutes (depending on exposure). Once nettles have been cooked, the stinging potential goes away.

If you have garden or kitchen gloves, use those to handle at first. Or, just dump straight from the bag into the steamer/cooking pot (we have rinsed them at the farm).

Nettles are a tender green with properties similar to spinach or basil and can be used in recipes for either green. Nettle pesto is a popular recipe (and was served at the Casa Verde dinner on Saturday!). Here are some more recipes to get you started:

Cream of nettle soup
adapted from Winter Harvest Cookbook

We had a delicious nettle soup at our weekly farm lunch last week!

Wash nettles and steam until soft in the water that clings to them. Puree with their liquid, adding a little stock if necessary. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan, add chopped leek, and cook until soft. Add 2 tablespoons flour and cook, stirring constantly, until color starts to turn. Add remaining stock (up to 2 cups), salt and pepper to taste, and nettle puree and heat to boiling. Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add milk or cream and heat gently. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan.

Nettle omelet
adapted from Winter Harvest Cookbook

Steam nettle leaves until limp. Remove from heat, press out moisture, and chop. Mix with ½ cup ricotta cheese and set aside. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan, and minced leeks, cook gently until they start to turn color, and stir them into nettle mixture. Add salt and pepper to 5 beaten eggs. Melt butter in an omelet pan or your closest approximation. Add eggs and cook over low heat, loosening edges as they solidify and letting uncooked egg run under. Spoon ricotta cheese-nettle mixture onto one half of the omelet, leaving a 2-inch margin bare. Slide a spatula gently under the other half and fold omelet over filling. Cook very gently, about 2 minutes on each side. Serve hot.

If you fall in love with nettles and want to harvest your own, check shady places and pick off the top bit of the nettle (just the first few sets of leaves). Remember gloves!

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2 Responses to About stinging nettles!

  1. Rick Crocker says:

    Sue made the nettle pesto tonight, and it was excellent. Got to admit we were a little skeptical, but now we’re believers. Simon is spreading some left over pesto paste on bread for tomorrow’s lunch as I type.


  2. Diane Gragg says:

    How do you make the nettle pesto?

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