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Note on Nettles: These are a great and healthful green to eat, but they are only eaten cooked. Take care when handling, they will sting while raw. It takes very little cooking to shed the stinging.

How to Store Nettles: they are delicate: keep cold in fridge in a bag and use within 2-3 days.

photo of the nettle harvest

What I like to do with nettles, from Julia

1) make a tisane (herb tea) with them. I like the taste of this tea, especially right after you swallow: it's delicious. Herbaceous, yes, bright green, yes. I just love it. recipe/instructions are below
2) order nettle anything on menus when I'm eating out. What did Chef A. or Chef B. do with nettles tonight!? I want to know.
3) use them as a cooking green. They're rather tender, and once they hit the heat the sting leaves nearly immediately and they are not only safe to eat,

They are beyond healthy and quite delicious. I saute them with a bit of garlic, S & P and toss with noodles. Same as I would do with kale or chard in a basic noodle dish. Read on for more recipes. enjoy!

RISOTTO WITH NETTLES
Recipe by Joanne Weir thanks, Joanne! her blog

6 ounces nettles, stems removed
2 cups homemade chicken stock
2 cups water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 cup Arborio, vialone nano or carnaroli rice
3/4 cup dry white wine, preferable Sauvignon Blanc
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

To remove the stems from the nettles, be sure to use latex gloves. 

Place the chicken stock and water in a sauce pan and heat until it is hot but not boiling. Reduce the heat to low and maintain the heat just below a simmer.  Place a ladle in the pan.

Warm the olive oil in a large heavy casserole over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 10 minutes.  Add the rice and nettles and stir for 2 to 3 minutes to toast the rice and coat with oil.

Add the wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until the wine has reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Add a few ladlefuls of stock to the rice and stir to wipe the rice away from the sides and the bottom of the pot.  Continue to stir until most of the liquid has been absorbed.  Add another ladleful of stock and continue to stir until the liquid has been almost absorbed.  Continue to add stock and stir in the same manner until the rice is no longer chalky, 20 to 25 minutes total, depending upon the variety of rice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove the pan from the heat and add another ladleful of stock, the butter and the half of Parmigiano.  Cover the pan and let sit covered off the heat for 5 minutes. 
Remove the cover and stir.  Place the risotto in a bowl and serve immediately.  Pass a bowl of Parmigiano alongside

Serves 4

Nettle Risotto

1/4 pound young nettles
11 oz risotto rice (i.e. arborio)
2 leeks or 1 onion, cleaned and chopped small
2 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
1/2 vup dry white wine
6 cups or slightly less chicken or vegetable stock
1 oz grated Parmesan cheese
S & P to taste

Heat the stock in a large saucepan. Wash the nettle leaves. Blanch for 2 minutes in boiling salted water, drain and chop very finely. Cook leeks/onions gently in half the butter in a large saucepan for a few minutes until tender. Add the prepared nettles and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring. Add rice and cook over a slightly higher heat for 2 minutes while stirring. Pour in the wine. Cook, uncovered, until all the wine has evaporated, then add about 1 cup boiling hot stock; leave the risotto to cook, stirring occasionally and adding about 1/2 cup boiling stock at intervals as the rice absorbs the liquid. After about 14 - 15 minutes' cooking time the rice will be tender but still have a little 'bite' left in it when tested; take off the heat and stir in the remaining butter which will melt and make the rice look glossy; sprinkle with the freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste, stirring gently.

CHEATERS VERSION: purists, close your eyes before you go on!

yes, I sometimes make risotto in my pressure cooker, with results that satisfy a family staying home to eat that night. Just don't tell Nonna! Cook up the onions/leeks in the butter/oil in a pressure cooker. Add rice, stirring often, until lightly golden. Add nettles, stir them in. Add wine, stir to mix. Add broth. Increase heat to high. Continue to stir until it all comes to a boil. Close pressure cooker lid (use instructions that came with it, the newer versions are quite safe). Cook on the first red ring if you've got that kind. (I have a Kuhn Rikon) Adjust heat and cook on the first red ring for 7 minutes. Remove from heat, run the whole pot under cold running water until the pressure is safe/done so you can *safely* open the pot. Open up, stir in the parmesan cheese. It works for me! -Julia

Nettle Frittata

by Mark Gordon of Terzo in SF

Yield: 6 portions

½ # Cleaned Nettle Tops
4 Tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove, Chopped
6 lg Organic Eggs
¼ C Heavy Cream
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Preheat oven to 300º Cook 1/3rd of the nettles in one tablespoon of the olive oil in a non-stick pan. Cook until tender adding a small amount of water if needed. Repeat this 2 more times adding the garlic on the third batch. Place all of the cooked nettles on a cutting board and chop finely. Place the nettles in a bowl of a food processor with the eggs, salt, pepper and process until the nettles are incorporated into the eggs. Add the cream and process for 10 seconds. Heat the non-stick pan on medium with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the nettle mixture and with a rubber spatula move the eggs around to get the entire mixture warm. Place into the oven and cook for about 12 minutes. Let cool for 3 minutes then turn the frittata out onto a plate and cut.

Nettle Tisane

Nettle tea is pleasantly herbacious without tasting like you are steeping a suburban lawn. I find the ‘afternotes' especially pleasant and mellow. Nettle tea is reported to be a great blood and liver tonic. A nice thing about this recipe: you can use the whole leaf and stem, no need to remove the leaves from the stems. I use a little tea strainer when pouring the final tisane into cups.

1 pyrex measuring cup
boiling water
nettles to loosely fill 1/3 to 1/2 of the measuring cup

1. Soak the nettles in cool/cold water for a few minutes.
2. Boil the water
3. Rinse nettles, using tongs or dishwashing gloves to not sting your hands.
4 Place cleaned nettles in measuring cup or teapot or glass bowl, pour water over to fill cup, and steep the ‘tisane' (a tea made with fresh herb) for 5 or so minutes. Enjoy.

Sauteed Nettles with Green Garlic & Olive Oil

Created by: Armando "Tiny" Maes

serves 6

1 ¼ # Nettles, Cleaned
3T Green Garlic (Chopped)
1/2 cup Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper (To Taste)

First preheat a large sauté pan on medium high heat, (one large enough to accommodate the nettles, you can even use a large pot as well). Second pour ¼ cup of the olive oil into the preheated pan. Then put all of the green garlic into the pan sauté briefly for about 30 seconds, just enough time for the green garlic to release its essential oils, being sure not to brown or burn the green garlic. Place the nettles into the pan and give it a good stir, let sit for just a second and then continue the stirring process. Once the nettles are completely wilted place them on a plate, drizzle with the rest of the olive oil and place a couple of lemon wedges for garnish.

Note: The nettles do not have the water content like spinach or other similar greens. So it might help to put a couple Tablespoons of water into the pan after the nettles have started cooking, just to hurry the cooking process. Myself I do not put the water, because I like the texture of the nettles when you sauté them. It is like little crispy nettle leaves and it also brings about a certain nuttiness.

Fettuccine with Nettle & Ricotta Pesto

Created by: Armando "Tiny" Maes

serves 8

1# Fettuccine (Preferably Fresh)
1/2 pound Nettles
6 oz. Ricotta
5 oz. Pine Nuts
1/4 cup Pecorino
2 T Parmesan
3 T Green Garlic (Chopped)
1 ¼ cup Olive Oil
8 T Sea Salt
6T Butter

First you blanch the nettles in salted water. Bring 1 gal. of water and 4 T of sea salt to a boil. Then place the nettles into the boiling water, just blanching them for about 1 minute. Take them from the water and place them into a strainer so that the excess water can drain away and so they can cool down to room temperature. Then rough chop the nettles and squeeze them dry as best you can. Place the nettles into a blender or food processor; add your oil, 4 ounces of pine nuts(saving the rest as a garnish) and the Green Garlic. Blend until all ingredients are combined about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Place the combined ingredients into a bowl, add your pecorino, parmesan and ricotta. Finish the pesto by folding in the three cheeses just until it looks like everything has come together.

In a separate pot bring 2 qt. Water and 4 T sea salt to a boil to cook the pasta (you should be able to taste the salt in the water, if not add more). In a separate large sauce pan or large sauté pan place about just less then half of the pesto mixture, 6 T butter and about a ¼ cup of the pasta water, heat all ingredients just till hot but not boiling or popping. In the pot cook the pasta for approximately 2-4 minutes pull the pasta from the water and toss with the warmed pesto sauce, cook on medium heat for just about 2-3 minutes so that the sauce has time to infuse into the pasta.

Nettle Soup by Maud Hallin

Serves 4

½ lb. fresh nettles
1 quart chicken broth
1 hard boiled egg
1 tbs. butter

Rinse nettles. The soft stalks can be used. But if you pick nettles of fully grown plants, use only the leaves. Of course, the fresh young tops are the best. Be sure to wear gloves, as they sting, until they have been cooked. Put rinsed nettles in a pan with a quart of water. Put to a boil. Push down the nettles into the water. When all nettles have been softened, drain liquid from nettles. Puree the nettles, mix with the chicken broth. Heat up mixture, add salt and pepper to taste. Of course, you may add chives, or a dash of garlic. As this is considered a spring dish in Scandinavia and Russia, an egg, which symbolizes rebirth, is often added. You may add some lovely quail eggs, or half an egg. The white and yellow looks especially nice as a center piece of the soup. The most elegant version is to chop an egg and mix it with soft butter. Put mixture onto some plastic wrap, and form into a sausage. Refrigerate until hardened. When ready to serve soup, cut egg/butter mixture into thick slices and put into center of soup plates. Excellent for increasing your intake of iron. Nettles freeze very well. If you have a garden, or plants, save the liquid, as fertilizer. If you allow the liquid to ferment, it works nicely as a bug spray. What many modern city people don't realize is that nettles are considered in some countries as exquisite as wild mushrooms. Nettles are used in many other countries, but to people in the Northern Hemisphere, after a long dark winter, these very early spring greens add a very needed supplement of iron, and fresh vegetables, when the root cellar was getting pretty bleak.

Martin's Nettle-Topped Linguine

1/2 pound linguine, cooked during nettle prep
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 bunch green garlic, or 4 cloves garlic
1 shallot or small onion
Salt and Pepper
3/4 pound of fresh Nettles
fresh Parmesan or Pecorino cheese to grate

Nettle Preparation: Soak in cold water for at least 5 minutes while you put together the other ingredients. Completely submerge the nettles in cold water. Take care not to touch them yet. With a glove, remove the leaves from the largest stems. Some folks eat the stems too, it's up to you.

Cook shallot and garlic in the oil and butter over medium heat. Spin dry nettles in a salad spinner. Toss the dried-off nettles into the garlic/oil pan when the shallot is softening and toss with tongs until the nettles are wilted. At 1/4 cup or so water, turn to low heat, then cover, simmer until soft. Add cooked noodles, season to taste, and serve with grated cheese.

Potato Nettle Soup

2 cups Nettle Leaves (young shoots)
1 Onion
6 small Potatoes
8 cups Water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp. Parsley
3 cloves Garlic OR 3 stalks green garlic

Puree onion, garlic, and nettles with 1 cup of water. Cut potatoes into small pieces. Simmer pureed mixture with potatoes and remaining water for 45 minutes or until tender. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes making the soup thick and creamy.


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