Last weekend I spent a few good hours tromping around Discovery Park with some folks from The Seattle Wild Foods Meetup Group and my bff Amy. The two of us eventually split off on our own and found a few really good spots for nettle picking. Honestly- this time of year it's nearly impossible not to find good spots all over the place. They're coming up like the wild little weeds that they are.
Blanched or dried- the vicious little things quickly turn into a culinary dream. Their flavor is earthy, fresh, and a little zippy. They make an easy replacement for cooked spinach in recipes, brew into an earthy tea, and blend into a gorgeous pesto or ravioli filling. I blanch mine for 2-3 minutes, run them through the food processor, and then freeze into ice cube tray portions. From there I can thaw and add them to just about anything. Most recently I've been adding them to my smoothies.
Cranberry & Nettle Smoothie
This has been my lifeblood lately. In an effort to cut down on gluten- I started making myself smoothies for breakfast most mornings. It took me a few tries to get a combination down that really did it for me- but I am over the moon about this one. The great part about smoothies is that everything is more or less interchangeable. If you don't have access to nettles- no problem. There are an infinite number of things that you can use instead. I've included some good alternatives in notes marked with red astrix below.
This smoothie is pleasantly tart, and lends its creaminess to raw cashews soaked in water. Ideally it's best to soak cashews overnight- but an hour will suffice, and in a pinch I've just thrown the cashews and water in without soaking at all. Still great, just not as smooth. If you're freaked out by the idea of adding greens to a smoothie- try it first with a small amount of spinach. You'll be pleasantly surprised- you truly can't taste it at all. Feel free to adjust the amount of honey that you use based on your tolerance for tartness.
Cranberry & Nettle Smoothie:
- 1/3 cup raw cashews + 1/3 cup warm water
- 1 handful nettles*, blanched
- 3/4 cup frozen cranberries**
- 1/2 cup kefir***
- 1-3 tsp honey or agave nectar
- 1 tsp flax meal
- 2 ice cubes
Combine all ingredients in blender (they layer best in the order listed), and blend using quick pulses until smooth. That's it! Seriously. Smoothies aren't hard.
* Spinach, kale, chard, arugula, etc. (no need to blanch these greens before using)
** Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc.
*** Yogurt, fruit juice, non-dairy milk, etc.
More great information about nettles can be found here.