Sunday, 19 July 2015

Cooking with stinging nettles

Since I began cooking with stinging nettles, I look forward to them popping up.  If you haven't eaten them yet, I strongly encourage you to give them a try.
They taste a bit like spinach.  They are beautifully soft when cooked, are good for you, are versatile and best of all, they are free!

I used to go outside, don a pair of gardening gloves and pick them leaf by leaf.  I actually really enjoy the process.  It's a gentle and meditative process.

Lately though, I've been feeling time poor so I've become a bit more savvy.  It's much quicker to just break the stalk near the ground and pop it in the basket complete with all the leaves attached.  I give them a rinse in a colander and put them all in a large pot with the tiniest amount of water.  After a couple of minutes over heat, they wilt right down and lose their sting.  Then you can pull off the individual leaves and use them in the dish of your choosing.
You should cook with them before they flower.  After flowering they can apparently irritate the urinary tract. 

I tend to use them with other veggies.  For example, when serving a casserole I might layer some mashed potato topped with nettles and then serve the casserole directly on the top.

I also like to add them to tomato based pasta sauces or make a pasta sauce just using the nettles, onions, garlic, some stock and a little cream.

I make them one of the main ingredients in a soup with parsnips.  Delicious!  The resulting soup is the most beautiful colour of green.

I have used them to steam in a parcel with fish before too and it was one of the nicest meals I've eaten.
If you haven't cooked with them before, you're in for a treat.  Please pop back and let me know what you thought and how you cooked them.  I would love to try out any new recipe ideas!

4 comments:

rabidlittlehippy said...

I've never cooked with them nor eaten them and the only nettles I know of locally (I'm sure there's 100's) are in a horses paddock - not the most hygenic location I'm sure.
I do however, buy dried nettle tea which I drink for its health benefits. It's a strong flavour I find but with some red clover, chamomile and oat straw it's most palatable. :)

Around The Mulberry Tree said...

Check out this beautiful looking pasta! http://www.beksbackyard.com/2015/07/what-to-do-on-rainy-day.html#.VauSxXiW2fQ

Linda said...

Rabidlittlehippy, I've been assuming everyone has heaps of nettles because we have two huge patches. One is under the chook pen on the hill. We also have them coming up in the veggie garden.

Mulberry Tree, thanks for the link. I'm thinking we'll try making nettle pasta today if time permits! Time is not always as kind as I'd like.

Farmer Liz said...

I don't think they grow up here, i have been on the lookout though. Isabel Shippard wrote that you can use the sting to ease arthritis pain, among many other uses. I do by dried nettle to add to my herbal tea mixes.