Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stinging Nettles!

Posted By on Wed, May 26, 2010 at 7:41 AM

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I stopped by the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market on Saturday near closing time, and Downing Hollow Farm had a few heads of lettuce left and lots of stinging nettles.

Now I know why.

Lori Greene offered a bundle of the nettles free of charge so I could try them, along with this warning: Be sure to wear gloves until they are cooked.

Yikes. It seems the wild herb, which is plentiful in spring, is covered with stinging hairs that magically disappear as soon as the greens are cooked.

When I got home, I ran all this by my husband Tony, including how nettles are a super food loaded with iron, protein, manganese, calcium, and potassium. Plus, they taste like spinach. He wasn’t impressed. “I hate spinach. I’m not eating it,” he said and walked out of the kitchen.

So the nettles sat in the veggie bin until Tuesday evening, when I finally got brave, cleaned the greens, and dropped them in boiling water for five or six minutes. Fortunately, I found these adorable rubber gloves that Santa left in my stocking. I hadn’t used them for cleaning (God forbid), so they fit the bill for handling the nettles.

Be forewarned: Nettles take a lot of cleaning. But there are lots of recipes online, and risotto with nettles seems to be a popular option. I opted for the most simple approach: drop the nettles in boiling water, drain, and sprinkle with fresh shredded Parmesan. When cooked, the nettles look exactly like spinach, but they taste a little more medicinal, sort of like chamomile tea.

Lori had suggested that I save the cooking water, add honey, and have a cup of tea, but I couldn’t go there. The color of the water reminded me too much of cod liver oil. Now doesn’t that make you want to run out to the woods and start foraging?

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