I can’t get enough nettle into my life. It is good for so many things: strengthening kidney function, mellowing-out over worked adrenals, it even brightens my skin and strengthens my hair! So I’m always ready to jump on any new and delicious ways to incorporate this super-herb into my life. (For more about the specific health benefits and waxing poetic about my favorite green goddess, click here.)

The most exciting part about working with stinging Nettle in your kitchen is her uncompromising demand of your utmost devotion. Each hearty stalk has such integrity, each leaf such sweet juicy-ness, and each tiny hair is shimmering with her secret ingredient – that unmistakable sting. I count it as a mark of pride that my fully-dried nettles can still inspire welts on my fingers when I’m taking her down from the twine.

freshly harvested nettle stalks hanging on the twine in my kitchen
freshly harvested nettle stalks hanging on the twine in my kitchen

The sting is considered medicinal – some practice self-flagellation with a fresh whip of Nettle to increase circulation and cure everything from arthritis to paralysis. After years of tender loving care and devotion to this wonder-plant, I’m still not that brave. But the 8-year old girl from our first recipe is the bravest little herbalist I’ve ever met. I am indebted to Quill’s mom, Gretchen, for permission to publish their recipe and photo! Without further adieu, here’s gluten-free, vegan-friendly, oh-so-tantalizing “Quill’s Nettle Pesto“:

“Here is what we used (we didn’t measure, but Quill did numerous taste-tests).
  • olive oil
  • garlic (just a tiny bit since she didn’t want it spicy)
  • nettles (par-boiled removes the sting, and water squeezed out)
  • little bit of lemon juice
  • walnuts (cheaper than pine nuts)
We blended it up in the food processor and had it on rice crackers – it was really good! We could have added parmesan cheese, but it tasted fine without. Refrigerate and eat within one week (if it lasts that long)!”

Believe it or not, Quill grows, harvests and handles all her own nettle bare handed!
Believe it or not, Quill grows, harvests and handles all her own nettle bare handed!

Kinder Hearts Nettle Soup

Kinder Hearts is a Waldorf-inspired home-schooling co-op in Boulder, Colorado. I am grateful to educator, visionary and Wise Woman Sage Hamilton for having the vision and courage to serve Nettle Soup to her kindergartners – and for sharing this gluten-free, vegan-friendly, highly nutritious recipe with us! (PS, the kids loved it!)

1/2 cup yellow onion, julienne
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T coconut oil
dash of S&P
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
“lots” of fresh nettles! (de-stemmed, 2 big handfuls will melt into approximately 1 cup in the pot)
1 can organic coconut milk
Saute onion and garlic in coconut oil for a little bit. Add some salt and pepper. Add chopped carrots and chopped celery. Cook for a little bit. Then add veggie broth and simmer until the veggies are soft.
Throw in nettles and simmer for just a few mins (to not cook out the nutrients). At the very end add a can of coconut milk and puree.
And while you’re harvesting and delicately de-stemming don’t throw the stalks away. They make a most effective compost activator!

baby nettle sprouting on my doorstep before she got buried in a 4 foot snowstorm – hang in there, little one!
NettleMe Seasoning
Last but not least, here’s my recipe for my popular NettleMe seasoning. It is so simple, yet so soooo good. Our fellow Nettle-enthusiast Quill eats this stuff by the spoonful! This recipe owes everything to the goddess of all herbalists, mother of all Wise Women, Susun Weed. Her Nettle seasoning recipe calls for 1:3 ratio of Nettles to sesame seeds, I am more generous with my nettles, achieving a 1:1 ratio of Nettles to sesame seeds – although I do use more salt…
3 cups dried nettle leaves
1 cup sesame seeds
1 T mineral salt
In a large skillet, start toasting the sesame seeds on high heat. Keeping an eye on the sesame seeds so they don’t burn, grind down the nettle leaves until they are nearly powdered. I use a clean coffee grinder. This should reduce the volume significantly, but give your seasoning a smoother texture.

NettleMe seasoning on bagels with cream cheese (very good with almond butter, too!)

When the sesame seeds are just starting to brown, stir in the ground nettles and add salt to taste. Cool and keep covered in a clean glass jar on the table. You’ll find yourself reaching for the NettleMe in place of S&P! Need some ideas on how to use this ever-so-versatile seasoning? Here’s 10!

How do YOU take your Nettles?
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