On our seemingly never ending search for stinging nettle, we came across the next best thing, wood nettle, and lots of it.
Wood nettle has all the physical characteristics of stinging nettle, so don’t let the name fool you, it has a nasty sting. If you plan on gathering it be sure to bring thick gloves. I was stung several times through my gloves while picking. Fortunately there was some plantain close by. I chewed it and applied it to the sting and it soothed it in seconds.
I’m sure this goes without saying, but if you try to eat it raw, you’re going to have a bad time. When cooked, the stinging hairs are softened and the formic acid is removed. Wood nettle can be used interchangeably with any greens in any recipe. I am a big fan of creamed spinach, so I just swapped the spinach for nettle. I unfortunately didn’t measure my wood nettle, but it was about enough to fill a paper grocery bag.
For this recipe you will need:
- 32 oz. Wood nettle leaves (I didn’t measure exactly, but this recipe is very forgiving)
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 Cup heavy cream
Separate the leaves from the stems, discard stems and rinse leaves thoroughly.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, add nettle leaves and boil 3 minutes. Drain leaves, pressing with out water with a large spoon. Set aside.
Melt butter in large skillet over med-high heat. Add the minced garlic and saute, stirring, until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the nettle leaves and cook, stirring often until the liquid is released. Add the cream, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking about 5 minutes until excess liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.
The finished product turned out great. The texture will take some getting used to, but the flavor was excellent. I could have taken a fancy picture of the finished product in a pretty bowl but I didn’t. I’m not gonna lie, I wish I would have and I regret it now but what’s done is done. You can drink the water you used to boil the leaves as tea. With all it’s health benefits (and all the work that went into harvesting it), it would be a shame to waste a drop. You can also dry the leaves, just as would stinging nettle, for future use as a tea.