Tuesday, March 8, 2011

In Praise of Nettles

Nettles have been eaten throughout much of human history and have been valued for their taste and healthy qualities. But in our modern society, they have become a food from which most of us are pretty far removed. Inevitably when we get nettles in our CSA share there are some members who are either confused or frightened by the delicate green weeds. Because of the abundant rain, the nettles are abundant on the farm. Some members have shared their perspectives and ideas this week.

Hi Gail - I wanted to share with you how I think about nettles. It's like, before this age of refrigerated ships and trucks, in those areas with winter cold and snow, nettles were probably the first edible greens that people had access to -- so when we start getting nettles, I think about what a relief it might have been to know that winter was almost over -- yay! we have nettles!!

I made a nice frittata with the nettles. It was really good, just a fancy name for an omelette with bread crumbs. A warning should be issued because they are wicked dirty, need many rinses. I love nettles and I am so grateful to the person who picks them so I don't have to!

Nettle Soup
from thenourishinggourmet.com
To ratio of potatoes to nettles is completely up to you. I packed a lot of nettles in, and it tasted great! But you could use less, if that’s all you had. If you would like, you could add a few dashes of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar for more flavor and tang. I am sure there are a lot of ways to dress this basic soup up!

1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced or put through the garlic press
Olive oil or coconut oil
8 cups of flavorful broth
4-6 potatoes, peeled and cubed (more potatoes- thicker and more creamy, less-thinner)
6-8 cups of packed and washed nettle leaves

In a large soup pot, heat the oil until hot, and add the onion. Sprinkle a little salt over it and saute until the onion starts to soften (about 5-7 minutes). Add the garlic and saute for a minute or two more.

Add the broth and potatoes and bring to a simmer, turn down heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Now add the nettles leaves, and cook for about five more minutes. You can just mash up the soup a bit with the back of a wooden spoon for a rustic soup, or you can puree it into a smooth soup. For those who can have dairy, finishing this soup off with some cream would be great too. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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