Blah blah blah about how stinging nettles are a mineral-rich herbal delight growing freely as a weed which cure a myriad of complaints. Yeah, its diuretic, astringent and a blood building hormone balancer. Just check Wikipedia. Whatever.
Honestly, this time I was just thinking about how good stinging nettles would be cooked with garlic and onions and rolled into handcut noodles, then slathered in the precious sour cream I knew we had in the cabin and sprinkled with the Three Stone walnuts which had been originally ferreted away as an emergency snack for the kid.
Everyone else seemed to have their own response to the concept.
This is Dad: “You’re eating WHAT?! Doesn’t that stuff sting? Honestly, Sri. There are grocery stores.”
Dad, its like sauteed spinach, only way tastier. Dad, it is my husband’s favorite pizza topper. Dad, I read that this lady suggests topping it with eggs and I can’t even deal with how good that sounds. This is a veggie-that’s-an-herb-that’s-a-veggie; its ridic, Dad.
Yes, of course I egged my kid on until he would touch the stinging hairs on the undersides of the leaves. I urged him to do it until he overcame his fear. Then, we quickly chewed up plantain leaves and spat the hasty poultice onto our sores. The pain subsided. Magic which involves parentally-condoned spitting? Win and win.
Have you tried this before? Are you too chicken? Or, maybe you don’t have nettles around? Sure you do. I’ve personally seen it on three continents and I wasn’t even trying. Look by the creekside or in the forest. Failing those places, check the web. Once some lady on craigstlist.com offering her roadside nettle bounty for free to whomever had gloves and a free Saturday to collect it.
Here’s how you do it. The recipe is easy and forgiving. I’ve provided an easy sauce using what I had in the cabin. Its not gourmet or anything, but it was yummy and no one would know better. That said, don’t feel compelled to make a trip to the store to make this cheater cream sauce. Butter and salt and maybe some sauteed garlic and you’re done, if you want.
Rachel from Clean’s Beet Ravioli Recipe provided the template for the dough. I took it from there, improvising with what I had.
Harvesting and Cooking Stinging Nettles
Look near rivers and creeks, roadsides and forests. Use only the freshest, brighter green tips, the top cluster of leaves or so. Below that can be fibrous. (Wear gloves or cover hands with a dish towel. Sometimes I just let myself get stung. It isn’t all that bad. In fact, the presence of formic acid can be medicinal for arthritic conditions.)
Rinse in cool water. Steam-stirfry with a clove of smashed garlic in a tiny bit of water (no oil) over medium heat, covered. It will cook down like spinach. Discard garlic or reserve for sauce and chop nettle finely.
(P.S. Optionally, stop here. This alone makes a delicious side dish.)
Combine 1 cup of chopped cooked nettles, drained, with 2 eggs.
Mix 2 1/2 C flour with 1 tsp salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and add nettle mixture. Stir and knead (adding extra flour as needed) until well combined and no longer sticky. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rest for 1/2 hour.
Roll out and cut into desired shape. Sprinkle well with flour if you don’t intend to use it right away.
Saute diced onion in a nonstick frying pan. Add minced garlic reserved from cooking the nettle. Add cooked pasta and stir in approximately 1 cup sour cream. Thin the sauce as desired with starchy pasta water. Salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with walnuts. Serve immediately.