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Your Favorite Ways to Use Stinging Nettles

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There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going.

Today: Take the sting out of nettles.

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Just as there is no rose without a thorn, there is no nettle without a sting. True to their name, their spiny leaves can leave a bad taste in your mouth (and seriously irritate any exposed skin) if you're not careful. But stinging nettles have a wild, fresh flavor, and, when handled properly, can be a joy to cook with.

Trampledbygeese wants to love them, writing on the Hotline: “The first crop of stinging nettles is almost ready. These will be the sweetest, most tender shoots of the year. The thing is, I just don't know what to do with them. Please help me fall in love with this excessively nutritious vegetable.” Food52ers know their way around a few vegetables, and they were up to the challenge:

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  • Ktr says: “Soup sounds great to me. Or maybe (I haven't done this), add some nettles to some creamed kale.”
  • Maedl chimes in with multiple options: “Cream of nettle soup is popular in Germany -- and very good.

 You can cook them like any greens, so that gives you an option for a bumper crop. I have also used them in a risotto, which is a lovely spring dish. And in Orvieto, north of Rome, I was served a lovely steak topped with a nettle sauce."

More: Make a nettle and sorghum simple syrup and then use it in a Southern spring cocktail.

Nettle pasta

More: If you have a few bunches of stinging nettles, you're well on your way to 5 dinners.

Are you a fan of stinging nettles? Tell us your favorite ways to eat them in the comments bellow.

Photos by James Ransom, betsybites, and Valentina Solfrini.

Tags: your burning questions, hotline, community, nettles, stinging nettles