I’ve been trying my hand at some foraging recently, an attempt to de-domesticate myself somewhat and connect with the wild again. I might be stretching the use of the word wild given that I’m referring to pottering around my local parks
I’m at the end of my pregnancy so I’m playing it very safe in terms of what I pick and eat but nettles are a nice safe bet. Pretty much everyone can identify stinging nettles – you only need to touch them if you’re unsure – they’ll helpfully confirm if it’s them or not!
Although nettles are available all year round they’re best at the start of spring, so now’s the time to harvest and tuck in!
Why would you want to go foraging around your local park picking prickly nettles you might ask?
Firstly it’s 100% organic food. In fact, it’s better than organic, wild foods tend to have a much higher nutrient density than farmed foods which are often grown on depleted soils.
Nettles are rich in iron, potassium, manganese, calcium, and vitamins A and C. They also have around 3 times more protein content pound for pound than wheat and barley. Nettle powder is also one of the richest sources of crude fiber, it’s significantly higher than most cereals and other plant foods, more than 9 times higher as compared to wheat and barley flour. Nettle powder is probably one of the richest sources of minerals among the plant foods.(1*) That’s a pretty powerful punch for a ubiquitous ‘weed’.
Added to the fact that nettles are basically a super food, they’re also FREE! I spend a good chunk of money on the best quality food I can afford because it’s an investment in my health, so anything that can help on this front is welcome.
I got a bit bored of simply making nettle tea (as delicious as that is) so I took the nettle-show to the next level this week and made a full-on dinner out of nettles.
This soup is as quick and easy to make as it is delicious.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
A big bag of nettles (I take the little bag shown in the picture up to the park and fill it up with the juiciest looking nettles I can find. Precision cooking isn’t my thing so I can’t provide a more accurate quantity, and you don’t need it anyway, go with your intuition!)
About half a cup of rice or some potatoes (for bulk)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop the onion and saute in a pan
Add rice or chopped up potatoes into the pan, with stock and plenty of water. You’ll need enough for the rice to soak up (so one cup for a half cup of rice) plus extra for the soup liquid. If you want it more soupy add more water, more thick…less.
Add your salt and pepper
Simmer for 10-20 minutes until your rice or potatoes are cooked
In the meantime soak the nettles in boiling water for a few seconds to remove the sting, then transfer into a bowl of cold water to wash off any dirt. The cold water stops the cooking process so you don’t lose lots of colour and nutrients while simply cleaning them!
Once the nettles are clean add them to the soup pot and either blend with the other ingredients using a hand blender or transfer to a regular blender.
Serve up and enjoy. You’ll be surprised how delicious this is.