Nettles have a rich taste reflective of their nutrient density, particularly of minerals such as calcium and iron. They can be a key ingredient in Spring Green Soup, which is a dish that can be a part of any meal and contain greens that strike your fancy. They are a kidney and liver tonic in the Chinese point of view, and can clear heat and nourish the blood. When I feel really gourmet, I tuck blanched netttles inside homemade ravioli (using wonton skin wrappers) with some homemade riccota or kefir cheese. I've seen recipes for pickled nettles, but they usually rely on vinegar pickling, which sidesteps the probiotic benefits of lactofermentation. My favorite and easy way to prepare nettles is in Nettle Pesto.
Pesto is a constant condiment in my kitchen, never used on pasta. A scoop is great alongside morning eggs, topping roasted vegetables, enriching a salad dressing, making a dish of beans more exciting, adding anti-oxidants to a meal of grilled meat or fish, turning yogurt cheese into a party dip, floating as a cute green island in soup, sneaking into a sandwich, bringing a hit of green power wherever its needed.
1/2 cup raw, unsalted walnuts
1 clove garlic or 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped green garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons white or chickpea miso
COMING SOON: My book Real Food All Year: Eating Seasonal Whole Foods for Optimal Health and All-Day Energy will finally be on sale in the beginning of April. Ask your favorite local bookstore to order you a copy now!