Every Saturday, check in to find out WTF is in season and WTF to do with all that local goodness.
This week, I set about gathering stinging nettle (or stinging metal as a certain Lastborn calls it). Nettles are full of vitamins and because they are one of the first greens available each year, they were an important foodstuff for centuries. Nettles can easily be foraged but if you lack time or confidence, you could try getting them from Colin Samuels at Jambican Studio Gardens.
Nettles like to grow close by water – rivers’ edges are a good place to search. Hold the nettle stem with tongs and snip the top of the plant off with scissors. You want to gather young plants before they flower. Personally, I find wearing gloves cumbersome and unnecessary. You may wish to wear them but you can still get stung through clothing as I proved two days ago when I waded into a patch of stinging nettles.
Smoked Salmon and Nettle Pizza
Large bunch of Stinging Nettles
1 package Puff Pastry
1 clove Garlic
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
10 slices Smoked Salmon
¼ – ½ cup Crème Fraîche, Sour Cream or Greek-style Yogurt (to taste)
Gather a lot of nettles because they will shrink down considerably as they cook (think of spinach). Once you have a potful of nettles, take them home and rinse them without touching them. Return them (wet) to the pot. Put a lid on the pot and cook the nettles until they are wilted. You may have to add a touch of water. You will think the nettles are safe to touch but remember that they are burning hot!
Chop the nettles and now you can do whatever you want. At our place this week, we will be eating stinging nettle soup; stinging nettle sautéed with garlic and chili; and of course, this lovely pizza.
Chop the garlic. Add the oil to the pot and cook the garlic and nettles until dry. You don’t want your pastry to get mushy. Because smoked salmon is so salty, don’t season the nettles.
Roll your puff pastry out. If you have made your own puff pastry you already know how to make stinging nettle pizza. If you’re new to puff pastry, you may wish to check out The Kitchn’s simple cooking lesson.
Bake the puff pastry for about 15 minutes in a preheated 375°F oven. Baking it without the topping will prevent it from getting soggy.
Remove the pastry from the oven and top with the slices of smoked salmon. Spread the nettles over the salmon and dollop the cream or yogurt all over. Bake for a further 10-15 minutes. Time your pizza to come out of the oven at 5:30 pm. Serve out on the balcony with a crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Ponder whether this is how the early pioneers enjoyed their stinging nettles.
NOTE – If you want to gather stinging nettle be careful:
- They sting!! Seriously. The leaves and stems have little hairs that will really hurt if you brush against them. Your skin will blister.
- Make sure you know what you are gathering. Never eat any wild foods if you don’t know what they are.
- Gather them from an area you are confident is safe. You don’t want an area with pollution. You also want to avoid dog-walking routes.
- Cook them before you eat them! Cooking softens them and makes them edible.
She Who Must Be Obeyed writes about her travelling and cooking antics at travellargefamily.