April 29, 2018
Common nettle is perhaps the most beneficial plant in both Slovenian folk medical as well as culinary practice, and can be luckily found almost everywhere; on the sides of the roads, behind people's houses and at the edges of forests, everywhere where the soil is rich in nitrogen.
Not sure if you found the right plant? Touch it – if it stings, that’s what you’re looking for.
Nettles are high in iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphor, tannic acid vitamins A, B2, K, C, various minerals, and the list goes on and on. They are a helpful remedy in clearing the urinary tract, including kidney stones, they lower the blood sugar, help in reducing inflammatory conditions in the body, and are one of the most effective plants in dealing with prostate-related problems.
The simplest curative intake of nettles is in a form of a tea. A large glass of strong nettle tea in the morning and in in the evening should work miracles, they say, although its exterior use is also very beneficial for battling various skin impurities, including acne and dandruff.
Nettles have long been in use as a vegetable, mostly prepared in similar ways we prepare spinach or chard. We use them in soups, as a side dish, in omelettes, or as a filling in dumplings. They are also quite tasty if simply fried on olive oil with some garlic.
Some would even eat them raw, just like that, while on a stroll in nature, or in salads: if you remove the stinging hairs on leaves by swiping them two or three times with your (gloved) fingers then you can eat them just like that.
Ok, we got one sharp and lively nettle, it still stung a bit after wiping it several times, so we opted not to put it in our mouth after all. The method did however (partially) work.
As a vegetable, nettle shoots are picked in early spring while still soft. By cutting them regularly, you can keep new shoots growing throughout the season till autumn. If they are not cut, however, they will harden and become inedible. You can also pick a pile of shoots in spring, then dry and save them for later use. Make sure you pick them in unpolluted areas – away from cars and “outdoor toilets”.
To open our culinary nettle season, we decided to make a simple soup. To save the shock to those not used to the flavour of this otherwise commonly used vegetable, especially in the Slovenian countryside, we opted for a recipe which is a bit more “gourmet” than usual: our nettles will be put in a blender, then joined by fried garlic, fresh cream, potatoes and croutons.
a small bag of fresh nettle shoots
½ l water
1 table spoon of olive oil
1 dl fresh cream
three cloves garlic
a pinch of nutmeg
salt to taste
Wilt the nettles in some boiling water, turning them around a little so that all of them become soft, and then blend them together with some of the water they were cooked in. Once blended, pour the nettles into a bowl. Once you are done with the nettles, add the remaining water to the same bowl, as it would be a pity to discard it and lose the goodness it contains.
If worried you might get burned while blending, wait first so that the nettles and the water cool down a little.
Rinse and dry the pot you used for cooking the nettles, put it back on the stove, add oil and chopped garlic.
Stir fry garlic until it smells good, then add the blended nettle broth and diced potatoes.
Add a pinch of nutmeg and salt.
Cook till the potatoes are soft.
Meanwhile you can prepare the croutons: cut a piece of bread into cubes and put them in the oven or into a flat lying toaster, if you have one.
When the potatoes are soft and cooked you can either mash them (they will end up in small bits and pieces) or leave them as they are. Add fresh cream and serve with croutons.