Monday, April 23, 2012

Cooking with Nettles

You cannot get more local than wild foods. My favorite is stinging nettles. That’s right, stinging nettles. They are packed with nutrition and have a similar taste to spinach. One of my first blog posts was about collecting wild plants and handling nettles.

Thanks to a friend, I was able to pick both nettles and mint this weekend. They are prime right now with delicate new leaves. I made up some nettle – asparagus soup based on a recipe that I heard about on SplendidTable. The original recipe uses green chard and spinach. I replaced the chard with sautéed asparagus and the spinach with the young nettle leaves. I used the tops of the plants. I caramelize onions by cooking them over low heat for 20 – 30 minutes in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The soup turned out great; I did add a bit more lemon juice than the recipe calls for because the asparagus flavor was pretty strong.

With the left over nettle leaves I made a smoothie and also dried some to use as tea later.

Nettle Smoothie Recipe
This recipe is 100% Michigan if you have the frozen items on hand. In an electric blender combine the following.
1 heaping cup of last year’s strawberries
2 cups fresh nettle leaves
1 cup cold water
2 – 3 (to taste) frozen last year’s basil leaves.

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