Sunday, August 12, 2007

WHB #95 - tortilla with a sting

Nettles: I asked and you told me - ‘use it like spinach’ and soon I discovered that this herb with a sting is easily tamed into a sweet bunch of greens.

The darling Mrs Grieve gives many culinary uses for nettles. The nettle pudding – a mix of nettles, green vegetables and rice, boiled in salty water in a muslin bag sounded interesting. Maybe later. But for my nettle initiation I decided to go back to first principles of exploring new flavours by cooking them with eggs. At first I decided to blanch some young nettle tops and add them to a tortilla Español. A little bit of greens would go well with some potato and olives I reckoned. While I started slowly cooking the spuds and onions, I dunked the nettles into hot water. About 30 seconds later I took them out to drain.

Then I did a stupid thing - I tasted them!

No, my throat didn’t swell from the nettles sting. I just fell in love with its sweet flavour, not a whisper of a barb. One minute I was squeezing out the water by rolling the blanched nettles in a clean tea towel and the next, without thinking, I had chopped the log into rounds, dressing them with a little sesame oil – and finished the lot.

Round two, the next day I was determined to marry the eggs and herbs. Simpler this time, I slowly cooked some onion and a little garlic in olive oil. To the garden, well gloved, once more I cut a whole bowlful of green tops then carefully chopped, the same rough cut I would do with parsley. With the onions well sweated I tossed in the nettles a bit at a time, with some semidried tomatoes. When all the nettles had cooked through, in came a couple of fresh, beaten eggs with just a smidge of salt and pepper. Call it an omelette, frittata or tortilla – I prefer to cook it the Spanish way – over low heat with a lid on, til cooked.

The verdict. Though packed with greens, the herby taste was barely noticeable. This is a sneaky way to up the nutrient content of a humble dish. But I think I need a few more hits of the sweet nettles, blanched and simply dressed before the season ends

WHB #95 is being hosted by Melissa from Cooking Diva. Don't forget to check out all the other herbal and vegetable creations that will be up on her site in a couple of days.

(Hmmm it's now friday - let's hope Melissa gets home from her trip and puts WHB up soon!)

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Blogger CookingDiva - Chef Melissa said...

I didn't know about this herb, thank you for sharing the tasty green finds and for joining WHB#95!

12:28 pm  
Blogger Ed said...

You know I had to have that bacon Sandwich first and Jackie had to phone her parents so I arrived just after he last bunch sold damnit. I suppose it serves me right for lounging around in bed with dogs all morning.

9:41 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Bacon - the secret killer!

1:21 pm  
Blogger Kalyn said...

Most interesting. I've never seen or tasted nettles, but of course I've heard them called "stinging nettles" so I would have supposed they would be a challenge to eat. Now I want to try some!

12:32 pm  
Blogger travelskerricks said...

howdy. i've just completely cleared my back yard of its throng of nettles (they go fantastically in the compost, by the way - really get things moving), and since reading this and your other nettle post i'm now filled with regret. you said earlier they're good for hayfever: how exactly? tea?

11:45 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Yes fresh nettle leaf tea is good for hayfever, also it has a little iron and is considered a 'detox' herb. Don't worry they are tenacious and will be back next year. But its so strange to see them through winter not spring!

12:00 pm  
Blogger Johanna said...

I saw the nettles at the collingwood children's farm on the weekend and was curious but neither brave enough nor inspired enough as there was so much other good food there - but was v interesting to see what you did with them - makes me think I should try them next time!

1:42 pm  
Blogger travelskerricks said...

Thanks! I think there may even be another lot coming up as we speak. Type. Whatever...

2:38 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Hi Johanna - these were in the garden, so I was excited to have a chat with the grower at the farm and other passers by to get their nettle tips. One suggested a nettle risotto which might be next.

PS: I'm also reading 'Animal Vegetable Mineral' and am thinking more about local eating.

5:32 pm  
Blogger Kalyn said...

I'm happy to see that Melissa is doing better and has finally posted the recap for this WHB. Thanks for being so patient.

12:34 am  

hey, i noticed the same thing about nettels - their taste is barely noticeable in a pie filling, so i guess it wont be much noticeable in the omelette
i now add them to any green dishes i make - sounds sensible since they're packed with vitamins
we forage them from the garden - they're not available at markets, and that's a good thing, otherwise, people would stop foraging them for free

4:30 pm  

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