Yes, I mean stinging nettles. I’ve already covered in another post about the highly nutritious qualities of this lawn and wetlands weed. One of my friends has taken up the cause and has prepared nettles in soup and as a cooked green for her family. Eat your weeds! (Just be sure what they are, first.)
Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) are annual plants that come up in nitrogen-rich soil that is well watered, such as in lawns, around farm animals and by streams. The plants are covered with tiny sharp hairs that are tipped with chemicals that cause a stinging sensation when handled. The sting may cause a slight bump on the skin and will go away on its own without spreading. A dab of vinegar will de-acidify the affected parts and should reduce or eliminate the sting. The effect is not like that of poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) which contains an oil that spreads to whatever touches it.
Nettles are known throughout Europe as a spring green and there are many recipes available for cooking it. The leaves are delicate and fresh-tasting, and the stems a little tougher but also edible.
To harvest nettles, wear gloves or use a plastic bag turned inside-out over your hand for protection. As with most greens the youngest are the most tender. Wash the nettles while wearing rubber gloves. Blanch the nettles 1 – 2 minutes in a pot of boiling water. That eliminates the stinging chemicals completely. Don’t cook longer at this point because the leaves will fall apart. You can now eat the nettles or use them in another dish. I’d advise chopping up the stems before or after blanching because they can be stringy. Use blanched nettles in soups, quiches, or fillings as you would spinach. Hint: don’t tell your family what they’re eating until after they’ve eaten it!
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 chopped onion
- 10 ounces blanched chopped nettles (measured after cooking)
- 5 eggs, beaten
- 3 cups grated cheese such as Munster, or a mixture of parmesan and mozzerella, or whatever you have that isn't too tangy.
- A pinch of ground nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: cooked vegetarian bacon or sausage, crumbled.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Lightly grease one 9-inch pie pan or 6 - 8 tart tins or Pyrex custard cups.
- Wearing gloves, harvest and wash enough nettles to make 10 ounces cooked, about one stuffed plastic grocery bag full or more.
- Blanch nettles in boiling water for 1 -2 minutes.
- Chop nettles into fine pieces (the stems can be stringy if kept long)
- Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
- Cook onion until translucent, 8 - 10 minutes
- Add nettles and stir until the extra water is absorbed.
- Add ground nutmeg to the nettles.
- In a large bowl combine the beaten eggs, cheese, salt and pepper and vegetarian meat if using.
- Add spinach mixture to eggs and stir to combine.
- Pour into prepared pan or pans.
- Bake 30 minutes or until centers have just set. Don't over bake.
- Cool for ten minutes before serving.