The food that takes me home.
The food I trust.
The food I know.
Food is not just chemicals … it’s information for body, mind and soul.
– Nettles too?
– Yes, nettles too 🙂.
How did I get acquainted with nettles? Not in the kitchen! I got out of the yard without letting my grandparents know that I was “going on a trip.” What followed … was not playful parenting nor empathetic communication. True story ;).
I grew up with nettles … or so it seemed to me – they were everywhere – especially in my way to raspberries and cherries and they were always messing my plans to leave the yard. I did not understand their meaning in the garden … on the planet … They needed to be weeded out! All of them! Eradicated!
“How can you be a weed so ‘bad’ and grow prickly hairs on your stems and leaves? What if people want to pick you?” That was the story that was running in my childish mind every single spring.
How did I return to them now, after 25 years? Lovesick probably, missing grandparents and all my childhood. I came to love them with all the thorns their strange texture. Today we went to pick nettles … and we returned with this:
What to cook for dinner with a flower? … So I went to the market. Et voila: I asked for nettles and nettles is I have got (and a bunch of snowdrops).
There are 7 green plants which are edible in the spring (I mean those you can find more often at the farmer’s markets – there are plenty others in the gardens or in the fields) who come to lift our mood on a rainy, muddy weather with a gloomy sky. They revitalize our body by bringing in more oxygen and minerals after a winter of hibernation and stagnation.
In fact this is what the green plants do. This is why they are abundant in spring and early autumn. They head for the sun light, absorb that energy and store it in the leaves in the form of chlorophyll. So when you feel you lack the energy make a summary of what was green (and alive) in your plate throughout the day.
Steve Gagne in his book “Energetics of Food: Encounters with Your Most Intimate Relationships” is studying the character of the plants, the direction and how they grow and he explains how we can use it in our favor.
I will write about each of them as they pop up and I will pair it with some recipe suggestions. Opening the series with: stinging nettles.
We eat nettles because they (actually I do not find any reason not to):
- help cleanse the body of metabolic waste – fewer kg for me
- are high in calcium 481 mg/100g
- kill and expel intestinal worms
- are a natural diuretic – help the body eliminate uric acid and bacteria that cause urinary tract infections and kidney stones;
- have a beneficial effect in bronchitis and asthma – bronchial secretions and fluid they favor elimination through expectoration
- are potent adjuvant in allergies – oh my holy allergies (they brought me where I am today)
- tonic for the entire body – powerful antidepressant effect
- harvest the leaves of the the young nettles (the first 4 or 5 leaves at the top of the plant), before blossoming (Urtica avoid a toxin which is present only in mature plants);
- season for the young nettles – late february – march – early april
- preferably they should be harvested from the fields or in the forests; the ones growing along ditches and under the drain pipes might have a high lead content
- 2 handfuls of stinging nettles ~ 100 g
- 4 Tbsp cashew cream
- 1 garlic clove
- Wash the nettles then drop them in a large pot of boiling water for 5 minutes.
- With tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the nettles and place them immediately into a bowl of ice water to shock and cool.
- Strain them and squeeze out as much liquid as possible
- Put the cashew cream and the stinging nettles into a food processor and process until finely chopped – or until you have a creamy texture.
- Stir in the finely pressed garlic clove.
- 2 handfuls of cashews soaked overnight with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- water - enough to cover 3/4 of the cashews
- oil - enough to cover 1/4 of the cashews
- salt - sea or himalayan
- juice of 1 lemon
- Blend all the ingredients with the hand blender.
- Add more water if necessary.
- You can substitute cashews with sun flower seeds.