Photo by Cherie Langlois
For some reason, IÂ awakened today with a fierce craving for fresh, healthy greens.Â
Our diet of late has been somewhat lackluster in the green vegetable department, in part because weâ€™ve been too busy to hit the supermarket, but also due to our efforts to adopt a more locavore grow-it-yourself or shop-the-farmerâ€™s-market seasonal diet.
Unfortunately,Â at present our farmerâ€™s markets are still closed, and here on the farm we only have two pathetic-looking kale plants that survived winter in our garden. (However, the weeds are doing just fine!)Â
Cold frames and a cute greenhouse for year-round greens growing are on THE LIST, but that doesnâ€™t feed my current craving.
Thank goodness for our stinging nettle patch.
I noticed in February that the nettles, which pop up around our goat and sheepâ€™s climbing rocks every year, had already started to appear, and so this morning I grabbed scissors and filled a bag with young shoots and leavesâ€”careful not to touch them, of course.Â
For lunch, I heated a few tablespoons of olive oil and sautĂ©ed two teaspoons of minced garlic, then added a colander half full of rinsed stinging nettle shoots.Â
After sautĂ©ing the greens for about five minutes (cooking kills the sting), I added a beaten mixture of two eggs, one slice Provolone cheese (torn to pieces), salt/pepper and snipped chives from my garden for good measure.Â Then I scrambled everything together until the eggs were thoroughly cooked (I added another tablespoon of oil to keep them from sticking), and enjoyed it with mint jelly-topped toast.Â It not only satisfied my fresh greens craving, but tasted fabulous!
Once upon a time, I despised nettles.Â A tall perennial fond of moist, disturbed ground, it ran rampant at the wildlife park I once worked at and often gave me stinging slaps as I tromped around the vast free-roaming area inhabited by moose, bison and other animals.Â
Then, after discovering our own patch, I did some research and learned nettles are a rich source of vitamins A and C.Â The Native Americans dined on these nutritious plants and used the tough fiber to fashion nets and snares.Â
You can also use nettles to make a healthy spring tonic tea, sautĂ© them with fresh herbs in olive oil as a vegetable side dish, or cook up aÂ creamy nettle soup similar to leek soup.Â Â Â
Caution:Â Always positively identify wild foods before partaking (consult a good edible plant book).Â Also, if you store your nettle harvest in the fridge, label it so someone doesnâ€™t get a painful surprise if they reach in the bag!