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Archive for the ‘Nettles’ Category

 

We spent part of this past weekend in a cow pasture on an organic produce farm in the bucolic Nisqually Valley near Olympia, Washington.  The reason we, and a dozen or so others, were there was the offer to join a  nettle-picking with our local Co-op.  The full spectrum was represented in our motley crew of foragers; freegans, vegans and omnivores; college students,  post-grads and free spirits; Germans, Japanese and garden-variety American mutt.  Yet, as diverse as we were, we were also a collective that was solidly unified in our desire to gather greens from the Earth in order to feed ourselves well. 

This Earth Day has me thinking about that pasture and the salad of diversity that grew there.  It was thriving with plants that we, as Americans, have declared war upon after deciding they were intruding upon our plasticized lives.  It’s a funny thing that we humans do.  We give something a name and so, therefore, it must be.  We have these teeth that are in the same position, spacially, as a carnivore’s fangs so let’s call them canines.  Would you depend upon these mock canines in a true tooth and nail fight to the death with a carnivorous foe?  We have this plant that is disorderly and won’t bend to our will so, therefore, we declare it to be a weed and seek to destroy it. 

Food for thought, literally.  Happy Earth Day.

 

 

Chilled Nettle Soup

This is a very nice and light springtime soup.  It’s packed full of phytonutrients and antioxidants that’ll nourish your body and set your mind to daydreaming of sunshine and the season’s bounty.

Ingredients:

1 cup blanched nettle leaves, packed [You could substitute spinach.]

2 cups vegetable stock

1/8 tsp freshly-grated nutmeg

sea salt, to taste

freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Add blanced nettles to a blender along with the stock.  Blend until smooth.  Add nutmeg and season to taste.  Chill in the refrigerator or serve at room temperature.  [If you want a thicker soup, you could add some of the soft interior of a fresh baguette and blend along with the greens, as you would in a gazpacho.]

 

 

Apple Dandelion Slaw

Along with nettles, we picked dandelion flowers and greens.  I wanted to incorporate them into this weed-based meal and this is what I came up with.

Ingredients:

1/2 an apple cut into matchsticks

2 flower’s worth of organic dandelion petals

4 large organic dandelion leaves, cut into a chiffonade

2 tsp raw sunflower seeds

fresh lemon juice

sea salt, to taste

freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Simply toss all ingredients together and squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the slaw.

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Our largest local farmer’s market opened this past week and we ventured down there yesterday to prowl the produce.  The selection is still a bit sparse, given that spring has only just begun, yet we were able to find some interesting things.  The organic apples were gorgeous and crisp, as they should be considering that this is Washington state, and greens abounded.  We found some locally gathered stinging nettles and I couldn’t resist the novelty of them.  I’ve had nettle tea in the past but had never prepared, let alone eaten, a nettle.  The other food that made me stop and consider it was rhubarb.  I’ve always believed that I hated rhubarb because of a rather nasty piece of pie I once had, but I forced myself to gather up some of those gorgeous ruby-colored stalks and hand them to the vendor to purchase.  I knew that I could create something with these fearsome stalks that would be tasty, though I wasn’t sure yet just what that would be.  So there I was with organic Pink Lady apples, stinging nettles, rhubarb and Brussel’s Sprouts.  What to do…what to do?

Savory Rhubarb and Apple Sauce with Nettles

Ingredients:

3 apples, divided [2 grated and one diced]

8 stalks rhubarb [3 cups, sliced]

1 lb nettles* [You could substitute any green.  Spinach would work well.]

10 Brussel’s Sprouts

2 cups unfiltered apple juice

1 T light miso paste

1 tsp chili garlic sauce

salt and pepper, to taste

soba noodles

Directions:

Grate two apples and slice the rhubarb.  Transfer to a non-reactive pot and add in the apple juice.  Simmer until the apple and rhubarb dissolve.  Add in the miso paste and chili garlic sauce. 

Nettles should not be handled by bare hand until they have been cooked when the sting is no longer a worry.  Using gloves and kitchen shears, cut the leaves from the stalks.  Add to a pot of simmering water and cook for 10 minutes.  Drain. 

While the sauce is perking away, slice the Brussel’s sprouts in half and add to a pan containing a drizzle of olive oil.  Pan roast on each side until browned.  Add the diced apple to the pan and roast in the same manner as the sprouts. [If your pan is large enough, you can pan roast the sprouts and apple together.]

When the vegetables are about 5 minutes away from being ready, add the soba noodles to boiling water and cook.

Serve the noodles with the sauce and top with the greens, sprouts and apples.

***

*I can now say,  with amazement, that stinging nettles are my favorite green.  They are incredibly tasty and have a great hearty texture.  It’s no wonder, these greens are 40% protein! 

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