Lately its been all Nettles all the time....Nettles in my breakfast, Nettles in my lunch, Nettles for dinner!...I've been making a take on the classic Irish Nettles Soup (recipe below!), which has quickly become become a favorite springtime dish in our home, and it's kid-approved!
Considering an apple today contains about 10% of the magnesium it did in the 1960's....we need our minerals! And Nettles- like many wild greens- seriously delivers. Rich in Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Potassium, Phosphorus, Copper, Silica, Vitamins A, C, D, and K, and tremendous amount of protein for a plant! If you don't already have a patch I highly recommend starting one (it grows itself!), or asking around your community for good patches you can harvest from. In our area it especially loves old dairy farms.
Luckily, nettles loses its sting when cooked or blended fresh for pesto, salad dressings, and sauces. I like to harvest the top 4-6 inches or so, before it goes to flower in early summer, and cook the whole thing, stem and leaf and all. It will store in the fridge in a paper bag for weeks! Here's a super-simple way to cook nettles: Put a few inches of water in a pan, add your nettle tops, cover and let cook about 5 minutes. Season to taste and have on their own or add to a dish!
Medicinally, this is a classic spring tonic that defines "food as medicine" and invigorates the body after a long and sedentary winter. Rich is anti-histamines, it is a wonderful ally for folks with seasonal allergies, which can sometimes be avoided by eating and taking lots of spring tonic herbs (which tend to fall into the class of herbs known as blood-purifiers or alteratives) in the spring, since this will strengthen the organs of elimination and help remove excess metabolic waste that can sometimes lead to seasonal allergies. And Nettles is also a true tonic herb, meaning it is safe for daily use and encourages the vitality of the body to grow and shine so that the healing truly comes from within!
Irish Nettles Soup
4 cups fresh nettles, chopped
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium potatoes, cubed
1/4 cup spring herbs (chives, garlic mustard, thyme, oregano,etc)
8 cups water, vegetable, chicken or bone broth
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
fresh-squeezed lemon, to taste
Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil, butter or ghee until translucent. Add the potatoes and liquid and bring to a boil then simmer until soft (7-10 min). Next add the nettles and herbs (reserving some for garnish) and simmer about 5 minutes until soft. Add the salt, pepper, and fresh-squeezed lemon to taste and enjoy!