Tag Archives: nettles

Nettles – the free alternative to Spinach

In which the Wartime Housewife points out that nettles gathered from the hedgerow are free whilst spinach costs over £1 per bag.  Plus a recipe for Egg Florentine Au Naturel.

Nettles - free food

While Boy the Elder was tramping through the Brecon Beacons this weekend, Boy the Younger and I decided to strike out into the countryside ourselves.  When BTY fell off his scooter for the 3rd time, he got, complaining miserably that he had been stung.  And so he had.  The very first nettles were peeping through the brown, sodden remains of last year’s foliage, vivid green and packed full of venom.

It won’t be long before we can start having Nettle Soup again! we cheered.  But nettles are a perfectly good vegetable in their own right.  The other dish I really like to make is Egg Florentine which is usually made with spinach (which is the ‘Florentine’ bit) but can be made equally well with nettles. It would make an incredibly nourishing breakfast dish as well as a light lunch.

How to prepare nettles for eating

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you to wear rubber or thick gardening gloves when harvesting nettles.  Always use the young tender leaves or the tender tops off older plants.  Get rid of any tough stalks and give them a good wash to get rid of any insects or anything else you wouldn’t want to eat.  Then treat them just like fresh spinach.

EGG FLORENTINE

Utensils:
Rubber gloves
1 x small saucepan or poaching pan
2 x medium saucepan

Ingredients:
½ carrier bag of nettles
4 eggs
1 knob of butter
1  quantity of cheese sauce – see below
a little paprika

Method:
Make the cheese sauce and keep it warm
Place the nettles into a medium saucepan with a little water and a knob of butter
Cover and steam until tender
Soft boil or poach the eggs
Drain the nettles and divide between 4 plates
Place one egg onto the top of each pile of nettles
Pour cheese sauce over the top of each
Sprinkle with a little paprika and serve immediately

Cheese sauce
2oz / 60g butter
2oz / 60g wholemeal flour (or 2 really heaped tablespoons)
4oz / 120g cheese – grated
½ pint / 300ml milk
1 pinch mustard power / ¼  teaspoon ready made mustard

Method:
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan then slowly
Stir in the flour and mustard powder to make thick paste (a roux)
Add the milk a bit at a time, stirring constantly
Simmer gently until the sauce has thickened slightly and then stir in the cheese

The sauce can also be done in a bowl in the microwave.  Follow the steps above but instead of simmering in a pan, pop the bowl in the microwave for about 3 minutes, taking it out to stir occasionally.

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Filed under Food, Hedgerows, Nutrition & Sensible Eating, Recipes, Seasonal

Time to grasp the Nettles – and make soup out of them

Nettle Soup  is really one of the great joys of late Spring.  Nettles are free, have as much iron as spinach and are packed full of antihistamines which makes them excellent prophylactic medicine for the hayfever sufferer.  It freezes well and looks and tastes divine.  Steamed nettles can also be eaten on their own as a vegetable and, if passed through a flame to destroy the stinging hairs, can be eaten raw if one is practising survival techniques.

Nettle Soup

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you to wear rubber or gardening gloves to pick nettles and it’s best to use the young fresh stalks or the bright green tops.

I shall have to put the photo on tomorrow as I have temporarily mislaid my camera on which the photograph of last night’s supper waits purposefully for it’s inevitable upload.

Utensils:
1 large pan
1 x chopping board
1 x stick blender

Ingredients:
2oz / 60g butter
1 large onion – chopped finely
1 large carrot – chopped finely
1 large garlic clove – chopped finely
2 pints / 1l chicken stock
½ carrier bag nettles (remove tough stalks)
3 tablespoons cooked rice (to thicken it)
1 pinch nutmeg
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons thick cream
Bit of extra cream for garnishy swirlyness
Chopped parsley to garnish (if you wish)

Method:
Melt butter in a large pan
Sweat the onion, carrot and garlic until soft but not brown
Add the stock and pile in the nettles
Bring to the boil and then simmer for 5-10 minutes until the nettles are tender
Add the rice and seasoning, then purée with the stick blender
Stir in the cream
Garnish with a swirl of cream and chopped parsley
Serve with tasty, seedy bread

16 Comments

Filed under Food, Hedgerows, Nutrition & Sensible Eating, Recipes, Seasonal