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Nettles; tenacious on our behalf

April 11, 2013

nettlesThe promise of warm weather from this weekend will give a boost to the crops as Mother Nature in her wisdom will turn the landscape from brown to green, the colour of the season. All seasons have corresponding organs in many traditions; spring represents the liver and gall bladder. The foods that support these organs grow at this time of year, so all edible wild green plants and cultivated green leafy vegetables are nourishment for them, helping the liver do what it does best-detoxify.

We can support this hard working organ in many ways, here’s one. As soon as nettles are a foot high, find a clean patch and start picking (the top 4 leaves with gloves!). They can be rinsed and made into a tea, soup, stir fry, risotto or mixed with other greens for Spanokopita, roulade or quiche. The sting disappears as soon as they are cooked. I could wax lyrical about the benefits! To name a few: they contain vitamins and minerals: Vitamin C, iron, magnesium, potassium, are a spring tonic, help when recovering from an illness, and have many other benefits. Believe it or not there is a ‘Be Nice to Nettles Week’ in May, from their website here are some other uses for these all around heroes.

Here is a tasty way to use nettles.

spinach roulade

Spinach and Nettle Roulade

Serves 4

Roulade

3 to 4 eggs, separated

1 clove of garlic

1  onion chopped

a  generous handful of spinach, Swiss chard or watercress-chopped

a gloved handful of nettle tops from a chemical free patch, washed and chopped

1 tablespoon gluten free  flour

80 grams of cheddar or other cheese, grated.

 Filling:

1 tub of cream cheese – leave at room temperature for a half hour to soften

2-3 TBS fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, coriander, dill-chopped

4-6 semi dried tomatoes -chopped

Preheat oven to 180C fan oven or 190 C normal oven.

For the Roulade

  • Line a Swiss roll pan or baking sheet pan with baking parchment. Brush well with olive oil
  •  Saute the chopped onion for about 2 minutes just until  translucent
  • Add the chopped spinach, nettles and garlic, season with salt and pepper
  • In a large bowl beat the egg whites until stiff. In another bowl mix the egg yolks, cheese, 1 TBS flour and the sauteed vegetables
  • Gently fold the egg whites into the vegetable/egg yolk/cheese mixture
  • Spread onto the parchment covered pan and bake for 12-15 minutes or until firm and golden. Roll up and let sit for a minute
  •  Loosen parchment paper while still warm
  • Spread with filling, roll up and chill in the fridge
  • Serve slices with the salad leaves and vinaigrette

For the filling

  • Mix chopped herbs into cream cheese
  • Add chopped semi dried tomatoes
  • Spread mixture over roulade, roll up and place on a serving platter and refrigerate if not serving within a half hour
  • When ready to serve slice some of roulade about 3/4-1 inch thick and place overlapping slice back on platter for everyone to help themselves
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