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NETTLE RECIPES:one of nature’s powerhouses herbs!

It is spring, and to many of us that means time to watch for the nettle. Long ago, our ancestors also watched for the first greens of spring after a hard winter with nutritional foods in short supply. As soon as they were able, they harvested nettle and incorporated its revitalizing nutrition into their diets. Nutritionally, nettle is one of nature’s powerhouses. Nettles are very high in calcium, chromium, magnesium, and zinc, and high in cobalt, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, protein, riboflavin, selenium, silicon, thiamine, vitamin A, and vitamin C (Pederson, 1998). Many an herbalist claims nettle is one of their favorites, and here we’ll share some of our favorite nettle recipes! Gathering Nettle Leaves It’s not called “stinging” nettle without reason. The leaves and the stalk are covered with fine hair-like daggers containing several chemicals including formic acid, which, when touched, causes a sting. Reactions to the sting vary. Some people accept the sting and thank the plant. Others feel the tingle the rest of the day. In others the burn can last twenty-four hours. (Japan has a nettle whose sting, they claim, lasts a year!) It appears if you work with nettle a lot, the sting isn’t as harsh.

The leaves are best harvested in the spring when the nettle is less than 18 inches tall. Taking only the top six inches is recommended. Try to harvest only stems with unblemished leaves. If you’re new to harvesting nettle, you should wear gloves and take a large paper grocery bag or basket for placing the nettle in. If you are harvesting for teas for later in the year, dry the nettle, either by hanging, or my favorite method: Placing the nettle loosely in brown paper bags, marking the bag, putting it in your backseat, and parking in the sun. Depending on the temperature, it usually takes only one day (more on harvesting here). Once the nettle is dried or cooked, it loses its sting. If you are looking for a place to buy dried nettle, we recommend Mountain Rose Herbs.

Stinging Nettle Recipes for your Cookbook

Nettle Soup

Ingredients 3 tablespoons butter 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 large onion chopped ½ cup uncooked rice (wild rice is great but any rice will do) Several large handfuls stinging nettle tops 3-4 cloves chopped garlic 8 cups chicken broth 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste Mixed vegetables, or corn or whatever veggie you like that day ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste Potatoes and/or leeks can also be added Directions

  • Carefully pick nettles – gloves are recommended. Take only the top 4-6 inches of new unblemished spring plants that are less than 18 inches tall. Remove the leaves. You may need to rinse and pat them dry.

  • Start cooking your rice.

  • In a separate large soup pan melt the butter, add the onion and garlic and simmer until translucent.

  • Add the chicken broth and onion and garlic mixture and nettles leaves in the soup pan and bring to a full boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes. At this point we use an immersion blender and blend until smooth.

  • Add the vegetables, rice and salt and pepper (and any other herbs you like) and simmer a few more minutes.

Nettle Pasta

You can use any of your favorite pasta recipes and incorporate the nettle.

Ingredients 3 cups flour 2 or 3 large handfuls of fresh nettle tops (harvested from plants no more than 18” tall and only taking the top 6”) 2-3 eggs Directions

  • Bring nettle and water to a boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

  • Strain nettles, retaining the water – you’ll use that water to boil your pasta in later.

  • Puree nettles and the eggs using immersion blender.

  • Make a well out of the flour in a mixing bowl and add the nettles and eggs mixture. Mix thoroughly until you have a smooth dough ball. (You may need to add extra flour if the mixture is wet or the retained nettle water if the mixture is dry.)

  • Put the ball of dough in a bowl and let it stand for 15 minutes.

  • Roll out about 1/3 of the dough at a time into a ball.

  • Cover the ball of dough with damp towel and let set aside for 10-15 minutes.

  • Roll 1/3 of the dough at a time on a floured surface as thin as you would like – can be very thin or thicker if you like thick noodles.

  • Cut into any length strip – as long or short as you want, or in squares if you want to make ravioli. Hang them, if possible, for about 10 minutes. We have a pasta hanger, but you can use a clean plastic hanger.

  • Bring the saved nettle water to a boil again and place your green noodles into the boiling water. Cook for 3 – 8 minutes depending on the thickness. Check them for doneness.

(To sacrifice health benefits but maximize delight, we drizzle with melted butter, garlic, and parmesan cheese.)

Nettle Broth

Adapted from Traditional Scottish Cooking by Margaret Fairlie

Ingredients 2 cups chopped young fresh nettle (dried nettle can be used off season) 1 quart chicken broth ½ cup barley 1 cup diced potatoes Salt and pepper as needed Directions

  • Wash and pat dry the nettle. Remove the stems and discard.Finely chop the leaves.

  • Bring the chicken stock and barley to a boil and simmer in a saucepan for about an hour.

  • Add the nettles and diced potatoes. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about twenty to thirty minutes.

  • Serve hot. Serves 4.

Nettle Oatcakes

Adapted from Prehistoric Cooking by Jacqui Wood

Ingredients bowl of nettles 2 tablespoon butter 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 egg approximately 1 cup oatmeal (until it binds) Directions

  • Wash a large bowl of nettles and pat dry. Place them in a pan with two tablespoons of butter and simmer over low heat stirring occasionally.

  • Strain.

  • Add salt and an egg and beat until smooth.

  • Add oatmeal until it binds together. Let sit one hour.

  • Press into about two inch patties, and fry until golden brown on both sides.

  • Serve warm with bacon, cheese, or with maple syrup.

Nettle Leaf Shortbread

Adapted from Je Cusine Les Plantes by Amandine Geers

Ingredients 5½ ounces of butter at room temperature 10½ ounces of plain flour 2½ ounces sugar (powdered sugar will make them less sweet) 3 tablespoons nettle leaf finely chopped (powdered) ½ teaspoons baking powder 1 or 2 egg yolks Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350F.

  • Cut butter into the small pieces.

  • Mix the dry ingredients (flour, nettle powder, baking powder and sugar).

  • Add butter and mix until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

  • Add one egg yolk and form a ball (if one egg yolk isn’t enough, add another and then add milk (about three tablespoons) to dry ingredients until it forms a dough.

  • Roll dough on parchment paper to about 1/3 inch. Cut into squares.

  • Bake 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Easy Nettle Tea

Nettle tea is nutritious at any time of year. I use about 1 teaspoon of dried nettle and 1 cup of water and let it brew, covered, for about 20 minutes. It can be drying in the winter, so watch for this. I hope you have access to fresh nettle this month so you are able to try some of the above recipes. And don’t forget to dry some nettle for use during the winter!

More Nettle Recipes to Enjoy: Nettle Vinegar Spring Nettles with Garlic-Lemon White Beans Nettle Spring Side Salad by Hunter Gather Cook Stinging Nettle Chips by Learning and Yearning Stinging Nettle Frittata by This Original Organic Life Stinging Nettle and Sharp Cheddar Omelet by Nourished Kitchen

REFERENCES Pedersen, Mark. (1998). Nutritional Herbolo

In collaboration and affiliation with Herbal Academy.

Gabriela Ana

Holistic Health Coach


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