Nettles are a tricky food to get to know – most folks either love ’em or hate ’em. If you’re truly hard-core, you harvest by hand, eat fresh nettle pesto or use fresh young tops in a stir-fry (click here for more tantalizing nettle recipes), or even practice “urtication” (reputed arthritis cure involving self-flagellation with stingy nettle stalks)!
I am a “middle-of-the-road” nettle lover. She grows lavishly all around my front door, I consider her tall, proud stalks and broad, dark blue-green leaves my protection, my shield, my ally. Inspired by a local eight year old, I’ve even started harvesting by hand (patting myself on the back, here). My best-selling nettle product so far is my all-purpose Nettle-Me seasoning adapted from my favorite herbalist Susun Weed. It resembles Gomasio, and can be used similarly in a stir-fry or rice bowl. I love a healthy sprinkle of Nettle-Me on top of my homemade hummus.
My latest adventure with nettle was inspired by a trip to France way back in 2004. I learned how to make traditional French vinaigrette exactly the way they make just enough for the evening’s meal, fresh every day. And, of course it is beautifully simple:
- 3 parts organic Olive Oil
- 1 part your very best Balsamic
- 1 part super creamy Dijon
- plenty of sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper to taste
Whisk together with a fork et voila! I’ve been making and sharing this vinaigrette for years without any variations. Last winter I started adding fresh, raw garlic and parsley for a super immune boost (and then I started eating it by the spoonful, nevermind the salad). And the the Nettle Faeries came to me in a dream and sang a song…
“When the blue-green goddess blooms
she dances in the light of the moon
her summery leaves give plenty food
for healthy meals old and new…”
…er, well, it went something like that. I sat up in bed full of inspiration and ran out to the yard to start picking nettle tops. Into the blender with a little olive oil (no blanching or drying or toasting, just fresh and juicy picked at the peak of potency under the full moonlight) and the bright green oil mixed into my favorite Vinaigrette a la Provence recipe became “Nettle-ette”!
Taken by the spoonful Nettle-ette salad dressing does sting. My tongue and throat did swell, slightly. After a couple days, however, the flavors melded and the sting mellowed into the most delightful and truly provincal nettle creation to date. Enjoy!