Eating Nettle

Nettle as Food, nourishes us through the transition from Winter to Spring.  Nettle gives us a much needed burst of energy to Spring into Action, to Dance in the Rain, to Plant Seeds and write Love Letters to our Plant Kin.  Nettle may seem bristley and harsh, but once you get to know her, she may teach you her gentle & nourishing ways.

When harvesting Nettle, there are a few things to consider...

Location- Is the patch clear and away from roadways and industrial sites?  Look at the plant and check into the qualities of her growth, does she look vibrant or sad and curled? 

Age of Plant- Harvest prior to the showing of flower buds (this is my method) as I have learned that the plant doesn't want to be eaten between flower and seed (I kind of understand why- She is putting her energies into Her future) as the leaves may irritate the liver/kidneys/bladder.

Ethical Harvest: If you happen upon a few, let them be.  If you happen upon a large stand, ask the plant first- take your time and lean in to listen for an answer (If she says "no" could be for good reason) If you feel a "yes" - give your thanks by way of a song or prayer, poem, tobacco or a like-offering and harvest so that you leave more than you receive.  Walk lightly in the stand as her tubers are shallow and running in soft soils is her way.  Harvest into a basket, paper bag, glass bowl, box...etc  I have gathered that she does not like black plastic bags, does not prefer plastic much at all.  Harvest what you will use and tend to her right after the harvest (so give yourself that time to fuss over her!) :)

For more tips on Harvesting: Please see my previous post The Spring of Nettle

The recipes following are of my own crafting, so please, if you share do give credit to me, Linda at The Nourishing Hearth. Thanks so much!  I do hope you enjoy!

Nettle Pesto   makes approx 6 cups and freezes well.  Storage in a glass container is best for fresh eating and it will last a bit longer- in theory ;)   3 cups blanched fresh Nettle buds and leaves  - Add nettle to a pot of boiling water and stir within the water for 1-2 minutes.  Quickly remove using a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of cold water.  Once cooled remove nettle and place in colander and let drain for 15 or more minutes.  This will take out the bitterness and the sting.  (The stems below the second set of leaves can make the pesto fibrous, so I usually cut them off)   1 cup fresh young organic Kale leaves  - stems stripped (can also use Mustard Greens, Sour Sorrel, Arugula) The ratio, I like, of Nettle to other greens is 3:1 or 2:1 and if you want just Nettle- GO FOR IT!   1/2 cup Olive oil  - approx amount, you may need to add more if pesto is seeming to be on the dry side   2/3-1 head of Organic Garlic  - amount is based on a large head of garlic .   I process  my garlic through a press because I like the way the juices are extracted and I feel it blends in with the other flavors nicely.  Finely chopped will do fine, as well.   1 cup each organic Sunflower Seed and Pumpkin Seed  - blend and pre-grind to a fine size and set aside.   juice of 1 Lemon    1T Salt & 1-2tsp Pepper

Nettle Pesto

makes approx 6 cups and freezes well.  Storage in a glass container is best for fresh eating and it will last a bit longer- in theory ;)

3 cups blanched fresh Nettle buds and leaves - Add nettle to a pot of boiling water and stir within the water for 1-2 minutes.  Quickly remove using a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of cold water.  Once cooled remove nettle and place in colander and let drain for 15 or more minutes.  This will take out the bitterness and the sting.  (The stems below the second set of leaves can make the pesto fibrous, so I usually cut them off)

1 cup fresh young organic Kale leaves - stems stripped (can also use Mustard Greens, Sour Sorrel, Arugula) The ratio, I like, of Nettle to other greens is 3:1 or 2:1 and if you want just Nettle- GO FOR IT!

1/2 cup Olive oil - approx amount, you may need to add more if pesto is seeming to be on the dry side

2/3-1 head of Organic Garlic - amount is based on a large head of garlicI process  my garlic through a press because I like the way the juices are extracted and I feel it blends in with the other flavors nicely.  Finely chopped will do fine, as well.

1 cup each organic Sunflower Seed and Pumpkin Seed - blend and pre-grind to a fine size and set aside.

juice of 1 Lemon

1T Salt & 1-2tsp Pepper

Blend in a heavy duty blender or food processor the first 4 ingredients.  Once you have a smooth, green, creamy paste add ground seeds, salt and pepper (I tend to like a fair amount of salt- so add to your taste) add the juice of one Lemon as a finishing touch

Blend in a heavy duty blender or food processor the first 4 ingredients.  Once you have a smooth, green, creamy paste add ground seeds, salt and pepper (I tend to like a fair amount of salt- so add to your taste) add the juice of one Lemon as a finishing touch

This is what I do next to freeze some and have some fresh:  When all is well blended I scoop out and set aside all but 1 cup pesto and to the 1 cup add and blend:  1-2T organic cultured butter & 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano or similar hard cheese (these ingredients are optional, the pesto is perfect with or without dairy)  Before freezing, I put pesto in fridge so the flavors can meld.  My storage method for freezing:  I place a square of wax paper on the counter and spoon 1/2-3/4 cup pesto on paper and form into a log and roll up into the paper, when all pesto is rolled, I place in a freezer bag and freeze.  This makes easy access to any amount of pesto, as I need it and once thawed I can add cheese, if desired.  (Note: this method is not recommended if you like your pesto on the oily side ...a bit messy then)  When your finished blanching the greens, after water has cooled it is great for watering plants, or save to add to soup stocks or drink it!   Why I choose to use seeds rather than Pine nuts:   There were a few factors in my decision to switch many years ago, one was that I have friends who have allergies to nuts, another was what I have heard of the over harvesting of Pine Nuts and I don't want to support those kinds of unethical practices.  And third is the cost of Pine Nuts is more than I can choose to afford.  I picked  Sunflower and Pumpkin  seed blend because of the high protein value and good omega oils- to name a few great qualities of these beauties.  Sometimes I will make a batch of Pesto with local Hazelnuts or Walnuts when in season, but the season of Nettle to these nuts doesn't line up, unless I have some nuts in the pantry from last season's harvest, so I most often stick with the seeds.

This is what I do next to freeze some and have some fresh: When all is well blended I scoop out and set aside all but 1 cup pesto and to the 1 cup add and blend:

1-2T organic cultured butter & 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano or similar hard cheese (these ingredients are optional, the pesto is perfect with or without dairy)

Before freezing, I put pesto in fridge so the flavors can meld.  My storage method for freezing:  I place a square of wax paper on the counter and spoon 1/2-3/4 cup pesto on paper and form into a log and roll up into the paper, when all pesto is rolled, I place in a freezer bag and freeze.  This makes easy access to any amount of pesto, as I need it and once thawed I can add cheese, if desired.  (Note: this method is not recommended if you like your pesto on the oily side ...a bit messy then)

When your finished blanching the greens, after water has cooled it is great for watering plants, or save to add to soup stocks or drink it!

Why I choose to use seeds rather than Pine nuts:  There were a few factors in my decision to switch many years ago, one was that I have friends who have allergies to nuts, another was what I have heard of the over harvesting of Pine Nuts and I don't want to support those kinds of unethical practices.  And third is the cost of Pine Nuts is more than I can choose to afford.  I picked Sunflower and Pumpkin seed blend because of the high protein value and good omega oils- to name a few great qualities of these beauties.  Sometimes I will make a batch of Pesto with local Hazelnuts or Walnuts when in season, but the season of Nettle to these nuts doesn't line up, unless I have some nuts in the pantry from last season's harvest, so I most often stick with the seeds.

Nettle Soup   For this spring 'all-ages' favorite I make a base soup of:   One organic onion or 3-4 leeks  sliced and slowly, on low, saute in butter and olive oil.  when soft add:   2-3 stalks of organic Celery  finely chopped add salt and continue cooking for a few moments, then add finely chopped fresh or dried Thyme and/or Rosemary and add with...   4 organic Potatoes  chopped in big pieces covered with Water in small soup pot (I favor Yukon Golds for soup).  Let all simmer until veggies are cooked, then add..   Spring Nettle!   equal to 1-3 cups buds and leaves of fresh, Spring Nettle (or frozen Nettle leaves or Nettle pesto if fresh is not available) ...maybe a bit less if using Nettle Pesto   1-4 Cloves organic Garlic  finely chopped or pressed.  I add garlic and Nettles about 10 minutes prior to blending the soup, so they don't cook too long.   1-3T organic Butter or Coconut Oil  This is optional, I add, when one or the other is on hand for creamy-goodness  Blend and serve with warm bread, croutons and top with crumbled baked Nettle leaves as a garnish.  This soup will be approx 4 servings.

Nettle Soup

For this spring 'all-ages' favorite I make a base soup of:

One organic onion or 3-4 leeks sliced and slowly, on low, saute in butter and olive oil.  when soft add:

2-3 stalks of organic Celery finely chopped add salt and continue cooking for a few moments, then add finely chopped fresh or dried Thyme and/or Rosemary and add with...

4 organic Potatoes chopped in big pieces covered with Water in small soup pot (I favor Yukon Golds for soup).  Let all simmer until veggies are cooked, then add..

Spring Nettle!  equal to 1-3 cups buds and leaves of fresh, Spring Nettle (or frozen Nettle leaves or Nettle pesto if fresh is not available) ...maybe a bit less if using Nettle Pesto

1-4 Cloves organic Garlic finely chopped or pressed.  I add garlic and Nettles about 10 minutes prior to blending the soup, so they don't cook too long.

1-3T organic Butter or Coconut Oil This is optional, I add, when one or the other is on hand for creamy-goodness

Blend and serve with warm bread, croutons and top with crumbled baked Nettle leaves as a garnish.  This soup will be approx 4 servings.

Sauteed Nettle with Shiitake Mushrooms- Oh my!   In a stainless steel or cast iron skillet* slowly saute in olive oil and/or butter  one onion , thinly sliced and when soft and caramelized I add a handful of thinly sliced Shiitake mushrooms and continue to cook, slowly for 10 and then I scoop this into a bowl and add to pan more butter and...   3 cups Fresh Nettle  leaves and buds - after I cut away lower stems.  Add lid to simmer until limp and after a few moments I add a bit of water to partially steam the greens.  When the greens are almost cooked (very much like cooked Spinach) I add the mushroom/onion ingredients and stir it all together while adding , through a press, 2-3 cloves of garlic and some salt.  This is great with scrambled egg breakfast or on rice or as a side dish to almost anything. Yum!  *I have cooked using both and the finished taste is oh so different- more delicate in flavor cooked in stainless steel and more mineral-rich tasting in cast iron.  Both delicious, in different ways.  Nourish and be Nourished  The Nourishing Hearth

Sauteed Nettle with Shiitake Mushrooms- Oh my!

In a stainless steel or cast iron skillet* slowly saute in olive oil and/or butter one onion, thinly sliced and when soft and caramelized I add a handful of thinly sliced Shiitake mushrooms and continue to cook, slowly for 10 and then I scoop this into a bowl and add to pan more butter and...

3 cups Fresh Nettle leaves and buds - after I cut away lower stems.  Add lid to simmer until limp and after a few moments I add a bit of water to partially steam the greens.  When the greens are almost cooked (very much like cooked Spinach) I add the mushroom/onion ingredients and stir it all together while adding , through a press, 2-3 cloves of garlic and some salt.

This is great with scrambled egg breakfast or on rice or as a side dish to almost anything. Yum!

*I have cooked using both and the finished taste is oh so different- more delicate in flavor cooked in stainless steel and more mineral-rich tasting in cast iron.  Both delicious, in different ways.

Nourish and be Nourished

The Nourishing Hearth