Friday, April 10, 2009
The Tastiest Nettles Ever
I harvested my first batch of nettles for drying yesterday. I picked about one large paper shopping bag full. This time I used gloves for picking. In the past, I've enjoyed picking nettles bare-handed. Picking nettles by hand with no gloves is a very meditative process. Each pinching of leaves must be done with precision, intension, and breath. Sure, at the end of the picking session, the finger-tips are stained green for several days; tingles & numbness do occur, but very little painful stinging goes on. I figure that the tingles & numbness (urtication), are healing in some way. Yesterday, though, I was intent on gathering many nettles fairly quickly, so I wore gloves. Nettle still got my attention, though, even through the gloves! She is a very sociable weed; "Notice Me! Notice Me!" she says. I did notice her, and followed her beckoning, green trail down the hill, through the woods, and into the dappled sun-light on a gentle slope next to Beaver's creek, where the largest, strongest nettles were growing. I'll dry this harvest for using all year. We love adding dried nettles to our soups, or sprinkling the powdered, dried greens over food. Especially good is a sprinkle made with equal parts dried, powdered nettle, and dried, toasted, powdered nori seaweed. Yumm. Nettle is a green super-food, free for the taking. She's very high in calcium, magnesium, trace minerals, and chlorophyll, as well as a host of other minerals and vitamins, including the B's; high in protein, vitamins C and D, and is good for nearly whatever ails you. She's famous for nourishing hair and skin, and I've noticed this spring, just since I've been eating nettles several times a week, that my nails have become quite hard. Nettles taste rich and wild, and can be used in any recipe that you'd use greens (such as kale or spinach) in. Once cooked, they loose their sting. If you'd prefer them raw, they make a fine pesto, ground up in the food processor with the usual pesto ingredients. I use wooden tongs to handle nettles in the kitchen. They work splendidly, and I can trim, chop, and move about heaps of nettles with no worries to getting stung.One of my favorite farm lunches (quick, tasty, and satisfying), is Greens on Toast. Here's how I made it this week; Roughly chop a mix of currently growing greens. I used beet-green thinnings, dandylion greens, and nettles. Saute some sliced leek. When it's soft, add a bit of garlic, salt or tamari, and generous pinch of smoked paprika (get the good stuff...it's so worth it! a little goes a long way). Then add your greens. My 8" skillet packed full will cook down to enough to cover one piece of toast. Use more than you think you'll need; they reduce a lot. Stir it all up, add a splash of stock or water, and cover. Let it simmer on med-low while you prepare the toast. I use rye bread. This time I made it fancy by melting some goat cheese on the toast and adding some sliced avocado, but it's still darn good with just greens on toast & no extras. When the greens are all cooked down, dark green, and soft, remove the lid and let any extra liquid boil off. Using tongs, place the greens on the toast. Drizzle with just a few drips of balsamic vinegar. Oh my. When I cooked up my greens this way, they were butter-soft, umptious, savory...wow, really delicious. Especially after a winter of eating greens and veggies imported from California. This concoction is also good with a fried or poached egg (fresh from the duck, of course!) slipped in between the toast and the greens. Writing this makes me want to go whip up some greens on toast for breakfast!