So, how do you pick and prepare stinging nettles to transform them from those stinging plants you spent your whole childhood avoiding to green, super healthy and tasty food? It’s honestly not that hard.
Firstly, you will need something to pick them in. I used a 5L plastic bag but it would probably be better if you double it up since I still managed to get stung through the plastic. Then, a long sleeved top and gloves and you are set to go. Some people say that you can pick nettles without gloves, that it will stop hurting after a while. They lie. It hurts like hell. I switched over and used garden gloves with leather on the inside and they worked perfectly.
The next step is to actually go and and pick some nettles. Try to choose the smaller plants since they are more tender (even if I don’t really feel the difference) and only pick the top leaves. Also, avoid plants that grow next to a heavily trafficked road or on contaminated soil (especially by nitric oxide). After picking the desired amount (keep in mind they reduce down to about 1/4 once cooked), leave the bag outside in the sun for an hour or so and all the bugs will crawl out of the bag.
The next step is to prepare the nettles so they can be stored and used in cooking. Bring a large pot to a rapid boil and blanch the nettles for about 3-4 min. This will stop them from stinging and also destroy the formic acid in the nettles. Drain them and run them under cold water to stop the cooking process. When the nettles are completely cold, either use them in cooking right away or freeze them. I formed hand-sized ‘balls’ and froze them individually so I could get easy access to a smaller amount whenever I wanted.
This recipe is perfect for using up those stinging nettles you so carefully picked and prepared. Perfect as a dressing for salads, together with pasta or maybe as a sauce to all of those BBQ that’s coming up.
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 clove of garlic
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp chiliflakes
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
Blitz everything in a food processor into a smooth paste, start with a smaller amount of oil and add in more as you go along so you get the consistency you want. Store covered in the fridge for up to a week.