Wild Plants

For a while now, I have been interested in wild foods.  I´ve put dandelion greens into my smoothies, clover into my salads, and even foraged a few wild hazelnuts and almonds.  Recently though, we have been stepping it up here and gorging ourselves on information 🙂

I can safely recognize about 15 different edible plants now in my local area, and that list is growing daily it seems.  My husband is actually much more adept than I am!  I still have a really hard time differentiating between chicory and dandelion when they are out of flower.  Good thing they are both edible!!

The plant I want to talk about today is Stinging Nettle.  This plant has very quickly become a household favorite.  It is very nutritious, high in iron and vitamins C and A, but most importantly very delicious!

This is a plant that most people recognize, if for no other reason than to stay away from it.  At first, it does have a nasty sting.  You do quickly get used to it though and it is actually medicinal.  Tea made from nettle leaves is cleansing and detoxifying, especially to the blood. Stinging nettle therapy, or urtication, is simply getting stung by the nettles.  It has been used with success in the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism.  Shockingly, it even helps in the treatment of depression.  When you are stung by a nettle, the prick is actually the nettle injecting chemicals into your body including *serotonin* !  These are just a few of its myriad of uses. What an amazing plant.

Here is a dehydrator tray full of nettles ready to be dried.

The best part of the plant to use are the young shoots or just the tops of larger plants.  These are more tender and less bitter.  Here is a nettle soup recipe that we made up last night.

*Note: This is not a raw recipe.  Wild foods, in my opinion, are such an important part of our diets that we should do whatever we can to get them into our bodies.  Even cooked, the benefits are so worthwhile.  I feel the same way about seaweed, too!

Nettle Soup

1 onion

5 cups nettles

1 c swiss chard  (or any other mild green)

1.5 c hazelnut milk (or any other nut milk)

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp fresh thyme

2 tbsp fresh parsley

salt and pepper

First, slice onions and sautee in a heavy pan in olive oil until they are lightly caramelized, about 15 min.  Set aside.  While onions are cooking, add nettles and chard to large cooking pot with enough water to cover.  Simmer on low heat for about 10 min.  They will reduce in size greatly.

Transfer onions, greens, nut milk, thyme, and about a cup of the nettle cooking broth to a blender.  Being very careful not to burn yourself, blend until smooth, then add  parsley and pulse until incorporated but not pureed.  You can either return it to the pot to reheat or enjoy it immediately.