My daily walk takes me into the woods where there are a ton of wild nettles growing. I’ve never actually tried nettles but with some research I figured you could just substitute nettles in any spinach, chard or kale recipe.
This got me really excited and I trudged into the woods with my gloves and clippers! Knowing that you can make something amazing with food you find in the woods is pretty inspiring. Plus you really can’t help but feel like a man when you’ve foraged for food.
Here is my three course meal with wild nettles and spring rhubarb from the property.
Nettle & thyme mushroom crostini
Stuffed pork tenderloin with steamed nettles, carmalized onions and apples. Yukon gold mash.
Rhubarb crème brûlée
Nettle & thyme mushroom crostini (serves 2)
a couple of handfuls of nettle leaves. (use gloves or you’ll get stung and that sucks!)
5 or 6 mushrooms — you could mix them up with wild ones as well
handful of fresh thyme — i used lemon thyme
fresh grated parmesan
sliced sourdough bread
Steam nettles in a pan with a little water until wilted and have lost their toughness and season with a pinch of salt. Slice the mushrooms fairly thick and saute with some salt, oilve oil, pepper and fresh thyme for a few mins. Toast your bread and rub the garlic clove all over, drizzle with olive oil.
Top the crostini with the mushrooms first then the nettles. Grate fresh parmesan on top and drizzle with more olive oil. stunning!
Stuffed pork tenderloin with steamed nettles, carmalized onions and apples. Yukon gold mash. (serves 2)
1/2 lb pork tenderloin
1 sliced onion
1 garlic clove
2 handfuls of nettles
1 tart apple , cored and peeled.
4–6 medium size yukon gold potatoes — peel and cut potatoes and boil in salted water until a knife slides through easily. Drain, mash and add butter & more salt if needed. Yum!
Steam nettles in a pan with a little water until wilted and have lost their toughness and season with a pinch of salt. Cook the sliced onion for a few minutes and then add sliced apple and continue to cook until the onions are sticky and sweet. Make a slice along the length of the pork tenderloin for stuffing. Slice your garlic clove and lay inside the pork tenderloin. Season with fresh pepper and salt. Stuff the pork with the caramelized onion and steamed nettles. Now you can either wrap it in foil and bake in an oven at 350 Fahrenheit or you can tie the pork and sear it first in a pan then finish roasting it at 350 Fahrenheit. The pork will be done when an internal thermometer reads 140–150 Fahrenheit. Let it rest for 5–10 min before serving.
Rhubarb crème brûlée (serves 4) adapted from “Sugar” from Anna Olson
1 1/2 cups table cream (18% cream)
2 vanilla beans
4 egg yolks
3 cups chopped rhubarb
some sugar ( now, I never measure I just start with a little and then check for sweetness at the end…it’s my way)
Scrape one of the vanilla beans into a pot with the rhubarb and some sugar. Cook over low to med temprature and adjust the sweetness to your desire. The compote is cooked when all the pieces have dissolved. Don’t overcook it or it will just look like crap. Oh yeah, and cool it completely.
Whip the egg yolks and sugar until you get ribbons. Meanwhile, scrape the other vanilla bean into the cream and slowly bring it to where it’s almost simmering. That’s kind of like boiling but not really. Pour the hot cream over the yolks and mix. Strain and cool completely.
Spoon the cooled rhubarb into small ramekins that are about 3 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep. Pour the cooled custard mixture over and leave about a 1/4 from the top for the brûlée part. Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit, place ramekins into a casserole dish and pour boiling water to surround the ramekins. You only need to go about halfway up the ramekins. I highly suggest you do this with the casserole dish already in the oven. Lifting a heavy dish with boiling water is asking for trouble. Bake for 45–60 min, until they no longer jiggle when tapped. Remove from water bath and let cool for a few hours.
To serve: sprinkle tops of custard with a teaspoon or so of sugar and broil in oven for one minute or use a butane kitchen torch.