Blast from the past 2012 post from my first garden in Madison, WI! This post is dedicated to Sophia, who had lots of questions about nettles when I mentioned having transported mine to our new garden and looking forward to making a nettle-basil pesto. Because YUM!
For anyone interested in growing nettles, I definitely suggest a pot, since they are very difficult to eradicate once planted in the ground. (Sorry, Madison!) They regularly grow on the edge of woodlands near streams, as well as in some gardens. You can harvest with gloves. Crushing the leaves releases the antidote to the sting, and heat also neutralizes the burn. If you carefully toss those yummy leaves (and even stems) into a high speed blender, you can drink nettle smoothies or make a yummy pesto, with or without basil. Herbalists have a saying, “When in doubt, use nettles,” since they reportedly cure so many things. Long infusions made from the dried herbs are particularly fortifying.
I also find nettles a fabulous addition to vegan curries, since they take on a slightly fishy flavor and scent when cooked. One of our very favorite nettle recipes is a (cooked) asparagus-nettle-lasagna using zucchini as the noodles layered with tomato sauce and the greens, baked, and then topped afterwards with just a dusting of raw goat cheese or raw Parmesan. It’s so mineral rich that it feels like every part of you got a jolt of deep, wild nutrients.
Spring has sprung in Madison, and I’ve got the garden goodies to prove it! Well, as you can see from the photo, I’m a Lazy Gardener as well as a Lazy Raw Foodist. I go for the perennials and not so much for the raking of leaves. Weeding? Um, since I actually prefer to eat wild things, I planted those nettles myself last year, having invited them to me energetically. One batch arrived from a potluck/foraging friend of mine via an unknown neighbor who dropped them off during a 2011 Reiki 1 class — just as I had mentioned how Reiki hones your manifestation skills. Touché! The other batch came as a gift from the same potluck friend after their own patch had grown beyond the capacity of nonstop nettle infusions and mortar-and-pestle’d salads. Here they are again, tender little leaves, spiking their way vigilantly through the ground as…
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