Thursday, July 11, 2013

Welcome back, dear stinging nettles

Olive and I were up on the road yesterday, gathering a wheelbarrow full of sand for the base of our wood fired oven, when I noticed some bright green, kind of luscious looking patches in the pasture at the farm across the road.
My hunch told me they were stinging nettles, and closer inspection proved my instinct to be correct. Hooray!
Just one of the many beautiful nettle patches
Discovering the delectable joys of the stinging nettle has been a highlight of our foraging and weed-eating adventures. In the spirit of seasonal eating, however, we haven't had any for a while, so when I saw those sweet sweet bright green nettle plants yesterday, I knew that nettle soup and/or risotto and/or pasta would be on our home menu sooner rather than later. Tonight, in fact!
Collecting nettles is fun, in that forage-y kind of way (goes something like this: Free food! Wandering around some place you don't normally go unless you're looking for free food! Anticipating the deliciousness you're soon going to be enjoying!). A bonus on this particular forage were these enormous mushrooms that were also enjoying the neighbour's cow pasture. 
My complete lack of mushroom-identification skills and a pretty strong desire to not poison my entire family made me leave the mushrooms alone, however. I was content to just give them a sniff (mmm... mushroom-smell...) and have a little daydream about some day in the future when I am a super-competent mushroom-identifying guru. Also, I had a big bowl of nettles to enjoy! One culinary pleasure at a time eh?
The gloves don't come off til the nettles are cooked
The good thing about nettles is that they're so delicious you don't really need to do much to them to enjoy. Here's my method to turn a big bowl full of nettles into dinner for the family and a jar of pesto to give to a friend:
1. Give your nettle leaves a bit of a wash. Ours came from a cow paddock, so I wanted to get rid of any cow poo and wee hanging around on the leaves.
2. Boil them for a few minutes to get rid of the sting-factor. It's not super delicious...
3. Toast some nuts. I used almonds and macadamias and a few pine nuts.
4. Whiz up the nettles, the nuts, about 5 cloves of garlic, some olive oil and some parmesan in a food processor.
5. Stir the nettle pesto into cooked pasta with some halved cherry tomatoes (I know - we're lucky) and some torn basil leaves (yep - really lucky) and feel your heart swell with joy as you watch your family devouring the bowls of super-nutrition you have prepared.
Even the kids love it


  1. Mmmm so tasty and so good for you.
    xxx Rosie

    1. Indeed! We'll drop a jar of vivid green off to your place soon x

  2. Isn't nettle season lovely! I've been drying loads of nettle tea. I can't get enough of the stuff.

    1. Hi Tricia, nettle tea - awesome! Have just popped over to your place and seen it really is the season for nettles. We might just give your nettle tea method a go. Thanks x