Springtime is nettle time! Nettles are one of our most important, and most abundant, spring herbs.
They are used as a gentle and effective cleanse as well as to detoxify the liver of built-up winter toxicity. In traditional Chinese medicine they are cooling by nature, sweet by flavour. They tonify blood, increase urine flow and improve quality of skin and hair.
Like other green foods, such as wheatgrass, they are high-chlorophyll food. Chlorophyll builds blood, renews tissue, promotes healthy intestinal flora and improves liver function.
These days nettles can be bought seasonally in Farmers’ Markets or you can try foraging them for yourself. Remember to wear gloves when picking and preparing your nettles to avoid their sting!
If you’ve been inspired by Dragana Vilinac’s latest instalment of Healing with the Seasons and the recipes there, here are three more of her nettle-based recipes for you to try.
Nettle and Sweet Potato Soup with Wheat Grass Juice
Makes 4 servings
Nettle soup is a gentle spring cleanser eaten for generations in Europe as a healthy tonic full of vitamins and minerals to help strengthen the body after a long winter.
Remember to wear gloves when picking and preparing your nettles; wash and leave in a colander to drip dry.
1 Sauté the chopped shallots and onion in a saucepan to which you add little water. Keep the heat low and allow the onions to soften.
2 Add sweet potato and sauté 5 mins.
3 squeeze in the garlic, pour in the vegetable stock liquid and get it all to simmer.
4 Let it simmer for 10 mins, until the sweet potato softens.
5 Switch off the heat, pour the contents of the saucepan into the blender and blend till smooth, add nettles and blend again until smooth.
6 Add 1-4 tbl wheatgrass juice to crème fraîche, serve the soup in the bowls and swirl the tablespoon of light green mix into the soup (if you don’t grow and juice your own wheatgrass using powdered wheat grass is fine).
The wheatgrass in this recipe offers unique digestive and anti-oxidant enzymes not available in such concentration in other foods. These enzymes help the body to detoxify, slow the cellular degeneration and are valuable aid in preventing ageing, as well as protecting cells against radiation, food toxins, and polluted air.
The sweet potato is cooling by nature and has a sweet flavour. Eaten in moderation it strengthens digestion, by moving Qi (vital energy), and removes toxins from the body. It also builds kidney yin, therefore subduing inflammation and dryness. it is also rich in vitamin A; useful for night blindness.
Spicy Nettles on a bed of Rice & Quinoa
For the Dressing
1 Clean and wash nettles.
2 Chop them, removing thicker stalks.
3 First place rice and quinoa into the pan, cover with two cups of water and spoonful of vegetable bullion powder.
4 Cook until rice is cooked and of right consistency (loose and not soggy).
5 Next, heat 1 tablespoon of water and the 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan, add chopped chilly and garlic, stir and add nettles.
6 Cover for a moment, then return back to it and stir the nettles around for minute or two.
7 Take away from the heat and keep warm.
8 Serve rice by making a small bowl mould. Add nettles in a ring around the rice.
9 Drizzle the dressing onto the nettles and rice. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Decorate rice mould with thin shavings of chili pepper.
Nettle and Ricotta Pie
1 Preheat the oven to 200° C.
2 First clean and wash nettles, protecting your skin from stings with rubber gloves. Once washed, drain and chop.
3 In a large bowl mix the cheese and four eggs, add salt to taste, and mix in thoroughly the chopped nettles.
4 Sprinkle the bottom of a baking dish with some oil.
5Start alternating one layer of pastry, sprinkled with a few drops of oil, with layer of the filling mix.
6 Make sure that you’re filling mix sufficiently spreads over most sheets of pastry in the pack. Finish layering with double layer of pastry, sprinkled with oil.
7 Next mix in a bowl crème fraîche and remaining egg, if too thick you can add a drop of milk, and poor over the pie.
8 Place the pie into the oven and bake until golden approximately 35-40 min.
Tastes good whether eaten as hot or cold, traditionally accompanied with plain creamy yoghurt.
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