Tuesday, 26 April 2011

If you can't beat 'em... EAT 'em!

Having tasted nettle soup at The Country Bumpkin's wild food night last month, I thought perhaps it was time to embrace the native plants permanently resident on my plot and give it a try myself. If you can't beat them, eat them - that's how it goes, right?

These nettle tops were picked on Good Friday and have been tied up in a bag in the fridge until today. I picked 60 tops (four leaves each, plus the spiky new growth at the top) which came to 200g. I thought they'd be all limp and lifeless, but they actually kept very well. And no, they hadn't lost their sting either!

I washed them in a sinkful of cold water to help perk them up a bit, and used scissors (and a glove - I mean a plastic carrier bag over my hand) to cut the leaves off the stalks - a fiddly task, but these nettle tops are from fairly big plants so the stems were tough and not wanted. If you pick them as young plants you can keep the stalks. Without the stalks, the weight came to 160g.

As usual, I didn't follow a specific recipe but read a whole range of them and then made my own up. This is how I do most of my cooking! Here it is:

Nettle Soup
(serves two)
  • Saute a small onion, chopped, in half a tablespoon of rapeseed oil.
  • When soft, add a small potato or two (diced) and a couple of cloves of garlic (chopped) and stir in.
  • Add half a litre of vegetable stock. Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for ten minutes (or until the potato is cooked).
  • Add the nettles (160g or thereabouts). Like spinach, they'll be huge in the pan to start with but will wilt down fairly fast - stir them in gently until they do.
  • Simmer another 5 minutes, then blend until smooth.
  • Add a teaspoon or two of lemon juice, to taste, and check seasoning.
  • Serve garnished with cream and black pepper or nutmeg. 

    Look at that colour!

    Nettles are fantastically high in vitamins A and C, with plenty of B, D and K too, and rich in iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium and many trace minerals. They also contain lots of fibre, they have diuretic and blood-purifying properties, they stimulate serotonin, and they contain histamines which can help fight allergies.

    I must try to eat them more often!


    Robert said...

    Nettle soup is good, but don't bother after the beginning of June. I image there was once a lot of it eaten at this time of year, before the first of the season's crops came in.

    Amy said...

    It looks amazing but how did it taste?

    I quite fancy making some and taking it to work for lunch - that would shock people!

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