Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Urtigas - Putting spring in your step

 Eat your weeds before they get´cha
Tender-handed stroke a nettle,
And it stings you, for your pains:
Grasp it like a man of mettle,
And it soft as silk remains.
Tom Johnson

Put a spring in your step, a smile on your face and  take the sting out of your cookin´. Early spring is a good time to go out with a basket, gloves and a pair of scissors to gather nettle tops (urtigas).March is the prime time for picking. Still tender,their sting is minimal.Bring them home, pop the kettle on, blanch them and your´re on course for grasping the nettle.As a child I have to say I grasped the nettle all too often and had to resort to the dock leaf remedy.In Western Europe, dock leaves are a traditional remedy for the sting of nettles and suitable larger leafed docks often grow very conveniently in neighbouring habitats to the nettle. Anecdotally they work - at least they did when I was knee-high to a stinging-nettle. How is it that small children know to reach for a dock-leaf when stung? They just do don´t they,they do.It's nice now to be able to have some revenge  as an adult.
So anyway, I grabbed a big bunch of the nettles I had gathered, and with tongs in hand dunked them ceremoniously into a cauldron of furiously boiling salted water to tame their poisonous attitude. Bye, bye formic acid, hello delicious green thing.Now everyone and their mother makes a nettle soup or nettle tea. Sorry that is so not interesting and nettle soup I’m sure is great, but that’s the one recipe everyone knows and that you can find everywhere on the Internet. I dug deeper. Stung? I think you will be.....

Bola de urtigas com queijo feta e azeitonas verde
Nettle bread with feta cheese and green olives
(adapted from a recipe by Maria Manuel Valagao)

250g farinha     
(250g plain flour)
4 ovos /eggs
100ml azeite / extra virgin olive oil
3 colher sopas de vinho branco   
(3 dessert spoons white wine)
levedura q.b.     1 heaped teaspoon dried yeast
sal e pimenta q.b  salt and pepper to taste
1 colher sopa tomilho  1 soup spoon thyme

1 colher sopa hortela  1 soup spoon mint
250g de folhas de urtigas branqueados e corteados grosseiramente
(250g fresh nettle leaves blanched and roughly chopped)
125 g Queijo feta / feta cheese

manteiga para barra a forma
butter for greasing the baking tin
100g de azeitonas verdes cortadas sem caroço
(100g pitted green olives)

Em tigela,juntar a farinha, o sal e a levedura.Adicionar os ovos um a um, misturando levemente.Juntar,progressisivamente,o queijo feta esfarelando, o azeite,o vinho branco,o tomilho e hortela,obtendo uma massa uniforme.Envolver as urtigas e as azeitonas cortadas.Deitar a massa numa forma de bolo Inglês previamente barrada e polvilhada de farinha.Vai ao forno a 210ºC/410F,durante 35-40 minutos.  

In a bowl mix together the flour salt and the dry yeast that has had water added.Add the eggs one by one lightly beating them in.Crumble in the feta followed by the white wine thyme and mint and stir until you have a uniform thick dough.Toss in the nettles and green olives.Stir to mix.Pour the paste into a loaf pan that has been previously greased and dusted with flour.Put it in a hot oven 210C/410F for 35-40 minutes.Allow to cool in the tin on a baking rack. Serve at room temperature or cold.

Variations: 
Instead of nettles you can use other wild foraged leaves,spinach for instance, 
blanched in the same way.
Serve with a salad or part of a tapas
Make a batter with the nettles, flour and water for nettle patties

Um pouco mais
Urtiga e batata gnocchi, risotto de urtigas , pesto de urtiga, spaghetti, ravioli,tagliatelle

Show me your mettle, petals;tell me your thoughts and ideas on cooking with nettles.I want to hear from you.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds rather delicious..although I'm not feeling very charitable towards nettles at this moment in time...due to the fact that I have just fallen headlong down the muckheap and landed face first in a bed of them!!!!

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