- Nettles are known for being rich in minerals, tonic, builder of blood, bones, and connective tissue. Wood nettles taste much better than stinging nettles.
- Handle Raw Nettles with tongs or leather gloves. Dried or slightly cooked, nettles are safe to touch.
- Before cooking, wash nettles until water comes away clear. Cover with cool water, remove with tongs or use sieve. Check to make sure water is clear.
- Measuring nettles is a joke. You can cram them tightly into a space, or let them be loose. These recipes are organized around the packaging I’m using to sell them.
Recipe: Simple Nettle Soup
Easy recipe for every day use. Many possible adaptations. Everyone who tried this liked it.
1 pound nettles (about 10 cups)
2 cups chopped onion (1 large onion)
3 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic
4 cups water
1 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
In large heavy pot, saute onions and garlic in oil. Add nettles and half of water; steam/boil until cooked. Blend. Add nutritional yeast, salt. Stir, taste, adjust seasonings.
Variations: Add celery or other seasonings with onion. Add potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, or any cooked root vegetable along with nettles. Add cheese (any kind) at end, just long enough to melt. Omit nutritional yeast. Flavor with miso. Chop instead of blending. Add cream or yogurt. (Etc.)
Recipe: Nettle Soup (Nässelsoppa):
The gourmet Scandinavian recipe, good with either wood nettles or stinging nettles.
10 cups washed nettle leaves (about a pound)
water to cover
3 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped chives
2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 cups light cream or half-and-half
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped or cut into slices, for garnish (optional)
Harvest, prepare, and wash about 10-12 cups of fresh nettle leaves, about one plastic grocery bag.
Use tongs or slotted spoon to carefully place washed nettle leaves in large saucepan, without touching them. Add water to cover, and bring to a low simmer. Blanch leaves for just a few minutes, until tender (Note: they’ll be safe to touch once blanched!)
Place blanched nettles with one cup cooking water into food processor and chop finely (don’t puree them). Set aside the rest of the cooking water and use it in soups or drink as nettle tea.
Heat butter and flour together in saucepan over medium-high heat to make a light roux. Lower heat to medium, add chopped red onion, garlic, and chives, and sauté until onion is opaque.
Whisk in stock, salt, white pepper, thyme, and nutmeg, stirring until roux is well-incorporated. Stir in processed nettle mixture, then gradually whisk in light cream or half-and-half. Heat until warmed through, about 10 minutes.
Pour into soup bowls, garnish with chopped or sliced hard-boiled eggs, and serve.
Yield: 4-6 servings.
Recipe: Nettle Pesto
½ pound raw stinging nettles or wood nettles (about 5 cups)
2-3 medium garlic cloves (or less)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts
1/4 cup olive oil
Pepper, finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Add nettles to salted boiling water for 1 minute. Drain immediately. (Save water for nettle tea.) Put greens in ice water to stop the cooking. Cool, strain and remove moisture completely (use a towel).
Coarsely chop nettles. In a blender or food processor, blend with garlic cloves and pine nuts. While pulsing, add olive oil, 1 tablespoon at a time. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
Option: Add grated Parmesan cheese and/or a touch of lemon juice at the end.
Some day I’m going to make this with a mixture of nettles and basil! Or with garlic mustard.
Makes 1 generous cup.