I collected 1.5 pounds of nettle today. That's a lot, for it being a green leafy thing. You should have seen me, tromping through the poison ivy, ditch-side, in pursuit of those fine tips. I even got stung on the tender inside of my arm, and can now testify as to how well dock leaf alleviates nettle sting. In fact, I now wish I had taken pictures of the process. I started off with white raised welts, surrounded with red. Half an hour after applying the dock, the welts and pain were gone, and only redness remained. Tonight, as I look down, I can see red pin pricks marking where I was nettle-stung, but have zero irritation. Hooray!
Nettle is my favorite green of the moment. For those of you participating in the Wild Thing Round Up foraging challenge, who are creating nettle recipes, use spinach as a jumping-off reference. But understand that nettle is also different from spinach. It's more substantial, and doesn't melt into goo. Nettle also has a flavor all it's own, more vegetable-y than spinach. I detected a faint broccoli taste in the nettle I had with my morning eggs. In other words, it's altogether nummy.
All that said, I managed to substitute nettle into a classic spinach recipe - saag paneer. Ok, gotcha, no points for originality today. But this dish is good, and I dare say that nettle holds up to the spices better than spinach. You know that I am a hard-core carnivore, but I happily ate leftover nettle paneer for lunch several days in a row.
As you know, because of my free-flowing approach to cooking, my recipes will never come close to duplicating anything authentic. And that is certainly the case here. This dish is loosely based upon what I've seen friends make in their homes.
Start by sauteing onions, garlic, and ginger in a bit of lard until softened and fragrant. Remove from pan.
Cut paneer (or Mexican fresh cheese, like I used) into small cubes, dust them with a little turmeric and chile powder, then throw them into the pan, and brown on all sides. Remove from pan.
Chop up your nettles, making certain to protect your hands with gloves until the nettles hit the heat. Drop the chopped nettles into the pan, stir around to coat with oil, add enough water to barely cover the bottom of the pan, then cover and let simmer until the water is nearly gone, at which point the nettles should be very tender. Add a big pinch of curry powder, a small pinch of garam masala, and a little salt, and continue to cook the nettles to blend flavors.
At this point, if you'd like your nettle to be less leafy, and more creamy, blend them up a bit with a stick blender. Return the onion, garlic, ginger, and cheese to the pan. Stir in a big spoonful of yogurt, a little squeeze of lemon, and adjust the salt.
Serve with flat bread or rice.
Cauldrons and Crockpots and I are brewing up lots of tasty treats using nettle this month, and are very excited to learn what's cooking in your home. If you've got a great nettle recipe, mail it to email@example.com before the end of the month, and you'll be included in June's collection of wild recipes.
I'm sharing this wild recipe with Pennywise Platter Thursday, and Fight Back Friday.