RECIPE AND PHOTO BY LISA MASE
Nettles are rich in potassium, magnesium and iron. You can find them growing wild in deciduous forests or plant them in a lonely corner of your garden. They thrive in poor soil, and will over-winter and become perennial. Just make sure to cut them back and keep eating them so that they do not get unruly! To harvest stinging nettles, wear gloves and use scissors. Cut the nettle stem just below the first bunch of leaves. Choose leaf tops that have not yet flowered.
Left: Stinging nettles in the wild
¼ cup salt
¼ pound fresh stinging nettles
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup olive oil**
- Fill a large pot halfway with water. Add ¼ cup salt and bring to a boil. Submerge nettles in water and let them boil for a few minutes. Drain them and set aside.
- As the nettles boil, place garlic, lemon juice, sunflower seeds, salt and pepper in a food processor. Blend, adding water as needed until a paste forms. Add ¼ cup olive oil and the boiled nettles. Blend once more. You can add a little more water to keep the paste-like consistency. Adjust seasonings.
Enjoy with frittata, sourdough bread from one of our skilled Vermont artisan bakers and perhaps a glass of Black Sparrow dry white wine from Vermont’s Lincoln Peak Vineyards.
Nettles: iron-rich spring greens that cleanse the blood, revitalize the liver and harmonize the body’s mineral balance while providing fiber to support consistent digestion and elimination.
Lemon: awakens the pungent flavor in the body, detoxifies the lymphatic system and provides vitamin C.
Olive Oil: anti-inflammatory; rich in vitamin E and monounsaturated fats, which enhance colon health.
Sunflower seeds: contain selenium to detoxify liver and blood; contain magnesium to strengthen bones, calm nerves and support immunity.
**A word about olive oil: Try to choose an organic brand from California, a state whose labeling we can trust. If you have a true source of Italian olive oil, you can choose that instead. To learn more about the challenges surrounding truth in olive oil labeling, read Tom Mueller’s Extra Virginity: the Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil (Norton, 2011). This book, as the New York Times review explains, “demonstrates the brazen fraud in the olive oil industry and [seeks] to teach readers how to sniff out the good stuff.”