Skimming through some foodie blogs, I read about Turkish Borek made with nettles, and it sounded so good and interesting, I got a little curious and began to google. I’d met up with Stinging Nettles before, and it wasn’t in food. I was hiking in shorts and ended up with red itchy legs after going through a big patch without noticing. Not something I’d like to do again.
Nettles are found in many countries and have long been used both as a food and as a remedy. The plant has high levels of vitamins and minerals and is a good source of vegetable protein. Among other medicinal uses, it’s an expectorant and is supposed to be good for people with allergies or cough, and it also has antiseptic properties. Drinking nettle tea is supposed to be very good for your hair and skin, too.
I had no idea where to locate nettles around here, but I happened to stumble upon some at a fresh market a few days ago. A huge bag cost me $2 and I ended up with good mess of cooked nettles and 4 litres of nettle water (which I made into a sweet iced tea with a bit of added lemon and mint). The tonic is refreshing and just a little earthy (I’m drinking some now, in fact). When I made it, Ginger Man was skeptical. Then I showed him a little nettle magic trick: add lemon juice to nettle tea and watch it change colour! That fascinated him, and since I tested the tea first, he had some too—and liked it!
I washed the nettles (using long tongs to handle them) and then boiled them in small batches for 2-3 minutes, then I shocked them in a little cold water and laid them out on a cutting board to chop them up. I wasn’t so sure they wouldn’t sting, but it turns out all the nettle-lovers’ advice was sound. I put some away in the freezer and mixed the rest with some sauteed garlic, toasted nuts, and feta cheese. Then I rolled out some storebought puff pastry to make a little nettle tart.
It turned out okay, but since it was only me having dinner, I kinda wished I hadn’t made so much. I’ll be eating nettle tart for a couple more meals, and it turns out I like it about as much as I do spinach. Nettles have a more distinctive flavour, but the two are similar. I think they’d be good in savoury pastries with a bit of meat and potato.
All in all, it was worth the $2 to do this little experiment. If you’re interested in harvesting or using nettles, take a look at the websites below.
- A Cup of Nettle Tea at Woodlands blog (the “magic lemon” video)
- Nettles — A wealth of information from Wildman
- Henriette’s Herbal Homepage — Do’s and Don’ts for harvesting and using nettles.
- Eat The Weeds — Informative herbology videos on YouTube
- Nettle Pudding at Traditional English Cooking
- Early Spring is the best time to harvest and cook nettles.
this post inspired by
Spirited Miu Flavor
Leaving a comment? I’m curious: Have you tried anything new lately?