I want to fall in love - with nettles

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.

The only thing I've made from them in the past is a version of medieval bread - sourdough rye with fennel and shredded blanched nettles. Somehow the nettles react to the sourdough and it stays mildly tangy even though the nettles are twiced cooked.

What do you make from nettles? Family stories of 'my oma use to make such and such soup with nettles and ham...'. Anyone made vegetarian rennet from nettles yet?

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ktr
ktr February 13, 2015

Soup sounds great to me. Or maybe (I haven't done this), add some nettles to some creamed kale.
I also have to say that whenever I hear about nettles, I am reminded of when I discovered they grew in the ditch at my grandparents house - my cousins thought it was hilarious that I got a huge itchy rash after running through them and my cousins were completely unaffected.

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trampledbygeese
trampledbygeese February 13, 2015

People cream kale? I'm sure it's better than it sounds.

Nettles are challenging. Different people react differently. Do you have a food allergy or allergy to bee/wasp stings?

ktr
ktr February 13, 2015

During the summer, I cream pretty much any green I come across!
And no, I'm not allergic to anything else - only seasonal allergies. I just react really quickly and severely to certain weeds.

ktr
ktr February 13, 2015

I just found this website which includes a recipe for nettle lasagna: http://www.richsoil.com/nettles.jsp

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Maedl
Maedl February 13, 2015

Cream of nettle soup is popular in Germany--and very good.

You can cook them like any green, 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.

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trampledbygeese
trampledbygeese February 13, 2015

Risotto has my interest. Do you have a recipe or guidelines for making nettle risotto?

Nettle sauce sounds good too.

Still not confident about creamed greens... but I've never had them. Willing to give them a go with a recipe (lots of kale in the garden still, some chard, loads of nettles).

Maedl
Maedl February 15, 2015

Here are some recipes to get you started:
http://www.italiannotebook.com/food-wine/recipe-risotto-alle-ortiche/

http://www.theguardian...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food...

http://ediblemadison.com/recipes/view/cream-of-nettle-soup

dinner at ten
dinner at ten February 13, 2015

Last spring, I made a delicious fresh pasta with blanched pureed nettles in the dough, made similarly to how you'd make a spinach pasta. It was great topped with sautéed mushrooms.
Nettles are also wonderful as a pizza topping (again, blanched first to inactivate the sting), particularly with egg. I imagine an omelette or a frittata with nettle in it would be really good too.
Do try your greens creamed, as ktr and Maedle suggested! I like mine pretty lightly creamed with some whole milk greek yogurt -- just sauté the greens with a little garlic, season with salt, and stir in the yogurt to your desired creaminess at the end. This is very good plain, but you can add in any spices you like while sautéing. Nutmeg is traditional with spinach, and I like mustard greens Punjabi-style with some chiles, cumin, coriander and garam masala.

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sexyLAMBCHOPx
sexyLAMBCHOPx February 13, 2015

Here's an article from the site: https://food52.com/blog... Also, lots of recipes if you do a search.

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cookinginvictoria
cookinginvictoria February 13, 2015

I love nettles! I make a spring soup with dandelions and nettles that is really delicious: https://food52.com/recipes...

I think risotto is a great idea too. I would blanch the nettles before adding them to the cooked rice.

Kukla has a recipe for a pesto made with nettles that looks wonderful: https://food52.com/recipes...

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Trena Heinrich
Trena Heinrich February 16, 2015

trampledbygeese - I have no contribution to your question, however I thought the title to your question, "I want to fall in love - with nettles", was very creative and funny! Thanks for brightening my day and educating me about unique ingredients and ways to use them in the kitchen.

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trampledbygeese
trampledbygeese February 23, 2015

Thanks everyone for your replies. Sorry for my delay, it's been so crazy on the farm. Thankfully I've got another two weeks before the next batch of lambs are due.

I haven't made anything with nettles yet, but they are on their fourth leaf now so I had best get on with it. Tomorrow I hope to try pesto... never made or ate pesto before, but sounds like it might be tasty.

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