Perhaps the earliest green of the season (before the invention of high tunnels), this European import grows wild on our farm. It is in perfect form right now, with this first shoots still in a tender stage. As a tea this medicinal vegetable is consumed as a spring tonic. Our recipe is for a delicious side-dish.
Do-it-Yourself Stinging Nettle Recipe
Be aware that handling stinging nettles without gloves can be aggravating to your skin. According to our Weeds of the Great Plains book, "the stinging hairs contain acetylcholine and histamine." Despite this, it was used to treat rheumatism in the past, the sting serving to stimulate blood flow. Once cooked the potential for irritation is gone.
The are simple to cook, a steaming for 10 minutes is all that is needed. You can cook the nettles whole, right out of the bag or trim off the bottoms of the thicker stems first.
|Fresh nettles are tender and can be cooked whole, or trimmed and chopped.|
Enhancing this basic recipe is where the DIY aspect of the recipe comes into play. If you eat meat, bacon fat is a good compliment as the fat/oil to cook in. Olive, sesame, peanut and other flavorful oils are equally delicious.
A good braising liquid is another basic ingredient for cooking nettles. White wine, water, and stock are all good cooking liquids. I like to top it with some vinegar before serving.
1/5 lb stinging nettles
1 small red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. lardo
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup beer
1/2 cup water
|Lardo, garlic and red onion|
Chop the lardo fine, heat in frying pan with the olive oil
Sautee the onion and garlic for 2 minutes, add the nettles
Cook for 2 minutes, stirring t blend the ingredients
Add beer and water, bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes
Serve with garnish of fresh green onions and vinegar