For most of us, stinging nettles are weeds that grow on roadsides and give us hives. But did you know that this plant is also edible and very good for your health? Fine Dining Lovers offers you a guide for cooking nettles and how to enjoy their versatility.
STINGING NETTLE SEASON
Stinging nettles can be eaten throughout the year. However, the best time to pick them is early spring, when the leaves are still tender and not too fibrous. Then small flowers grow and their texture is much less pleasant, except for nettle herbal teas.
You can buy nettles at farmers’ markets, some supermarkets or pick them yourself, preferably far from pesticide-polluted fields and away from the roadside.
THE BENEFITS OF STINGING NETTLE
Nettles have great nutritional value. They rich in magnesium, calcium, zinc, and potassium, but also in vitamins C, K and B. Nettles are also the largest source of vegetable iron after algae. Thanks to all these properties, nettles are detoxifying, diuretic and also have calming virtues.
HOW TO COOK STINGING NETTLE
The most common use for nettles is an herbal tea. Put 3 to 4 leaves in a cup of hot water and let steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
Young nettle sprouts can be eaten raw and added in a salad as spinach shoots, for example.
Another delicious recipe is to turn nettles into pesto. Simply replace half of the basil with nettles in a traditional pesto recipe.
Nettle pasta makes for an extraordinary meal. This video shows you how to incorporate blanched stinging nettle leaves into pasta dough for the perfect colorful fettuccine.