Saturday 13 August
by Susannah Phillipson
Hello Salisbury Centre community,
It’s me again, Susannah, back with another delicious recipe and some stinging nettle appreciation!
Two years ago I went to Romania to stay with my dear friend Claude – a permaculturist and a FANTASTIC chef – who taught me this recipe. One of our aims that summer was to learn about, gather and dry wild herbs for making medicinal teas, and quite honestly I expected it to be a journey of discovering new and unusual plants with powerful properties that I would not find at home.
And what did I find? The most potent medicines I found had been trying to catch my attention all of my life.
Dandelion, plantain leaf, nettle, yarrow – they grow through cracks in the pavement trying with all their might to say “Hey! You! I can make you better!” They have been travelling with humans for thousands of years, and yet – precisely because they’re so commonplace – we rarely pay attention. Why is it that we expect everything that’s good for us to come at a price?
If stinging nettles weren’t such a prolific and generous plant, they would be right up there with spirulina powder and goji berries, sold as expensive superfoods in every health food shop. Nettles are incredible. Their deep roots allow them to access nutrients that other plants cannot reach, making it available to us! They contain high levels of iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, and more chlorophyll than almost any other plant (cleansing the blood, energising the body, and boosting the immune system).
Check out these graphs from The Homestead Laboratory that show how nettles (and also lambsquarter (AKA Fat Hen, another fave)) measure up against commercial greens. These are not just plants you could eat for bushcraft survival, they are a plants for eating as part of your regular diet:
And if that wasn’t enough, nettles are also DELICIOUS. I always feel like Pop-Eye after I’ve eaten nettles, and they bring a rich, minerally, salty flavour in place of spinach.
To harvest nettles, choose a patch where they are still fairly young and haven’t started flowering yet. Pick the top 4 – 6 leaves, and leave the rest of the fibrous stem. Wear rubber/garden gloves if you don’t want to get stung, but if you’re brave nettle stings are also tremendously good for circulation! In fact, it was the Romans who brought nettles to the UK, to whip themselves with to keep warm while they invaded Ancient Britain! This is a practice known as Urtication, helpful for arthritic pain, which you can read more about here.
Creamy nettle, Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry recipe
This recipe is my absolute favourite thing to cook with nettles. The nettles and spices get cooked and blended into a coconutty sauce, while texture and sweetness comes from chickpeas and sweet potato. It was a fun process writing down the recipe as I cooked it – I’ve never written it down before! You will need a hand blender.
Some things I learned from Claude about making curry are:
(it freezes well if you have extra portions, and is even tastier after a night in the fridge!)
2 onions, diced
2 heaped tbsp coconut oil (other cooking oils would also work)
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 ½ tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tbsp curry powder
400-600g cooked chickpeas
3 sweet potatoes (around 600g)
1 tin coconut milk (the more concentrated the better)
400g nettle tops, rinsed
1 litre vegetable stock
4 garlic cloves
5cm ginger root
Glug of olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional toppings: chopped coriander, squeezed lime and toasted flaked almonds
Serve with brown rice.
YUM YUM YUM YOU CAN THANK ME LATER 🙂
I’ve been spending the last 7/8 years most of the time in solitude, painting, dancing, and working/playing with my dreams….